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BeefSD: An Integrated and Intensive Extension Curriculum for Beginning Beef Cattle Producers in South Dakota
Proceedings, Western Section, American Society of Animal Science (2013)
  • K. C. Olson, South Dakota State University
  • Julie Walker, South Dakota State University
  • S. Hadrick, South Dakota State University
The average age of beef producers in the US
is 58 and increasing. A need exists to increase the
opportunity and success for the next generation of beef
cattle producers. Extension at SDSU and South Dakota
Farm Bureau Federation partnered to address this by
providing a 3-year educational program that assisted
beginning beef cow-calf ranchers in South Dakota to
become economically, ecologically, and socially
sustainable producers. The goal was to present a curriculum
that contributed to future agricultural production, land
stewardship, and rural community viability. The learning
objectives were to provide: (1) evaluation of alternative
production systems, (2) an integrated understanding of the
entire US beef cattle industry, and (3) development of
individual cattle enterprise plans. The target audience was a
group of 30 beginning beef cattle enterprises represented by
43 individuals (several couples and a pair of brothers
participated). The curriculum was comprised of six major
kinds of activities: (1) instructional workshops, (2) case
studies of established successful producers using a variety
of production systems and management practices, (3)
evaluation of post-weaning performance of participants’
calves, (4) mentoring from established beef ranchers and
other industry professionals, (5) web-based interaction, and
(6) travel study trips to learn about other segments of the
beef cattle industry. Outcomes of the program were
evaluated using surveys of the participants beginning at 12
months into the program and thereafter at 6-month
intervals. Responses were primarily open-ended written
answers, lending themselves to qualitative analysis.
Responses indicated that meaningful outcomes have
occurred. For example, when asked the impact of the
program on their operation, one producer indicated: “I just
had to tell you guys that our net worth has increased by
$37,000. If we can continue to be diligent we can either
keep 30+ bred heifers or operate on our own money by the
end of the year.” Other participants reported comparable
impacts. In conclusion, the beefSD program has been
successful at fostering positive outcomes for the beginning
producer participants.
  • Extension service,
  • beef cattle,
  • beginning ranchers,
  • beginning producers
Publication Date
July, 2013
Publisher Statement
This was originally published in Proceedings, Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science held on July 25-27, 2014 in San Angelo, Texas. Copyright © 2014 American Society of Animal Science.
Citation Information
K. C. Olson, Julie Walker and S. Hadrick. "BeefSD: An Integrated and Intensive Extension Curriculum for Beginning Beef Cattle Producers in South Dakota" Proceedings, Western Section, American Society of Animal Science Vol. 64 (2013) p. 289 - 272
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