Symposium, seminar learning experiences for farmers, ranchers

More than 150 people from New Mexico and Texas packed the Tucumcari Convention Center Wednesday and Thursday for the two-day Southwest Beef Symposium. (Freedom Newspapers: Ryn Gargulinski)

By Ryn Gargulinski: Freedom Newspapers

TUCUMCARI — Longtime Tucumcari veterinarian James Tompkins nodded when the Southwest Beef Symposium speaker talked about BVD, or Bovine Viral Diarrhea — not because the vet of 35 years was especially enamored by it, he said, but because he was glad to hear the knowledge shared with Thursday’s crowd.

“It reinforces what I’ve been telling people for the last 15 years,” Tompkins said. “A lot of factors are involved in (cattle) production that ranchers need to know more about, especially disease.”

Rundowns on gastronomical ailments were just one of the dozen or so topics covered in the two-day Southwest Beef Symposium, where more than 150 attendees from New Mexico and Texas packed the Tucumcari Convention Center like, well, cattle.

Quay’s annual Ag and Home Economics seminar was running in conjunction with the symposium’s second day, with a much smaller crowd, but sharing some of the same topics — such as monitoring devices.

“They let us know why we as consumers need to know where our meat came from,” said Quay’s Home Economist Brenda Bishop, adding that monitoring is one way to trace the origin of beef.

Tucumcari resident Chase Watson said the discussion on monitoring devices was one the most useful topics of the entire symposium.

“All that stuff about electronic tags was the most interesting,” Watson said. “Right now it’s voluntary but it may be mandatory,” Watson said, adding it was beneficial for ranchers to know what may be in store.

Also on the symposium agenda were talks on early weaning programs for calves, the differences between natural, organic and grass-fed cattle, and Asian beef exportation after the market had been closed to the U.S. in 2003 due to mad cow disease.

The favorite topic on Clovis’ Brad Hodges list was wheat stocker systems. “It was pretty informative,” Hodges said. “It gave a lot of ideas on how to improve production.” Hodges, who was manning an Ag New Mexico Farm Credit Service booth as one of the handful of vendors at the symposium, said he will surely be able to use the information to pass along to his clients on how to better manage their herds.

Speaking of management, Sage Faulkner was on hand with her husband, Shane, and baby Bayler. She said they manage a ranch in Chama and she was a symposium panelist on the final discussion of the event — triumphs and challenges of alternative beef product marketing.

“Alternative marketing is selling direct to the customer,” Sage Faulkner said. “We are also here to learn what not to do and how advances in the academic world relate back to us.”

“We’re here to learn a lot of stuff,” Shane Faulkner added, “like about overstocking, or how many head of cattle is too many per acre.”

When asked how many is ideal, Sage Faulkner responded with a laugh, “Isn’t that the magic question?”