Cattle farmers interested in lowering the cost of feed rations, the use of cover crops or touring the facilities at the Orr Beef Research Center in Perry have a golden opportunity.

The University of Illinois will host its annual field day event at the Orr Center Nov. 2. The program begins at 5 p.m.

“Our annual event gives us the opportunity to share the latest research findings,” said Travis Meteer, U of I Extension commercial beef educator.

Meteer and fellow Extension educator, Teresa Steckler, will provide herd-management tips heading into winter, including least-cost rations and the extent and management of anaplasmosis in Illinois beef herds.

“We know feed costs represent over 60% of the total cost for cow/calf operations,” Meteer said. “When you’re trying to maintain and improve profitability, a lot of it boils down to feed costs and how to manage those.”

The warm start to fall and recent rains helped some farmers extend forage seasons while also improving pasture conditions in some areas. Pasture conditions ranked 48% good to excellent (up 9 points from the previous week), 29% fair and 23% poor to very poor statewide as of Oct. 25.

“It’s give and take out there,” Meteer said.

“I think the warmer weather (in October) coupled with some moisture allowed us to grow a little bit of fall grass and maybe allowed opportunities to get a fall stockpile put together,” he said. “But, as we got more rain, it also maybe made the corn stalks not last as long.

“Overall, I think we’re in good shape for forage supplies, but there are some areas that have been in drought (particularly northern Illinois),” the educator noted. “There’s some differences in the state of what’s available (for feed).”

Other topics at the Orr Center field day include using cover crops in an integrated row crop and beef cattle system and the effects of injectable vitamin E in receiving cattle. Other speakers include U of I animal science professors Josh McCann and Dan Shike.

Tours of the facilities will also be offered at the event.

“One of the features of opening the doors to the Orr Beef Center is we’ve got tremendous facilities to show everybody,” Meteer said. “We’ve got new dry-lot pens and a nice calving barn and facility with an innovative design. If a producer is looking to upgrade (facilities), this will be an excellent model. We’ve also got low-stress animal handling working facilities.”

Participants of the field day must wear masks and observe social distancing. The event will be held under roof and in open air, so participants should dress for the weather.

Contact Travis Meteer to register or for more information at 217-430-7030 or email wmeteer2@illinois.edu.