It was a round-up last night at the 4-H Building in Shelbyville, as the Illinois Beef Association (IBA) put out the feed back and chewed the fat with area beef producers.

Brad Halbrook, a local beef producer, IBA board member and chairperson for last night’s round-up welcomed the 40-some producers and the feed was on.

The producers not only got their fill of some Grade A beef and the fixin’s, but they also feasted on information from the state staff members on issues like animal I.D. numbers, premises registration and foreign trade.

Maralee Johnson, Executive Vice-president of the IBA was at the meeting as was Cimeron Frost, Director of Independent Projects.

“We started these meetings during the Curt Rincker administration and they work so much better,” Johnson said. “We used to have regional meetings and had our own agenda’s. But, they were not well-attended and this is more successful in reaching out, especially to producers who are not IBA members.

“This is a better way to dialogue. We eat together and discuss issues the producers want to talk about over dinner. We’re always available for producers to call, but this is better.”

Johnson said there are about 14,000 beef producers in the state and that the average beef operation in the state has 24 cows. No cattle barons on the Illinois prairie.

“Many of them work off the farm in other occupations or are primarily row crop farmers who have cattle on the side,” Johnson said. “There are some pure-bred breeders, like Curt Rincker who breeds Simmental’s, and there are commercial cowmen who produce and sell hybrid cattle.

Also in attendance at the meeting was Ed Ballard, Shelbyville, a long time expert in the field of beef production. According to Ballard there are about 200 beef producers in Shelby area.

Ballard, the “Grazing Guru,” was also available at the meeting to discuss year-round grazing which enables producers to cut down on feed costs. He was available to discus rotational grazing, sowing oats and turnips in cornfields in the off-season to let the cattle feed themselves and also fertilize the field with their manure.

Ballard, a 40 year veteran of the University of Illinois Extension served in Shelbyville 27 years and he said the issue of year-round grazing has been featured in three national publications in the last three months. Although Ballard is retired he continues to do research through the U of I and works on his own to help producers.

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