K-State expanding program as interest in herd rebuild grows

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Interest from producers in growing herd sizes in the years ahead is encouraging Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Agriculture to expand its Sunflower Supreme program across the state.

The program focuses on using the latest technologies, effective health protocols and genetics to improve the reproductive performance of replacement heifers and increase cow longevity within the herd.

High cattle prices, cheaper feed costs and easing drought conditions have more producers considering herd expansion. Jaymelynn Farney, animal science specialist with K-State Research and Extension, says the program is starting in southeast Kansas, but organizers hope to expand to cover all of Kansas by next fall.

Special emphasis is on dystocia or calving difficulties in heifers, but also addresses whole herd health and successful breeding techniques.

Farney says the program considers all the factors of an animal’s expected progeny differences (EPDs) to further improve dystocia concerns.

Through the program, participants complete detailed herd records and attend meetings on heifer health, breeding success, nutrition, genetic evaluation, and marketing.

Highlighted topics of the program include:

- Vaccination and health guidelines
- Reproductive management tools to improve breeding success
- Evaluation of sires to minimize calving difficulty
- Marketing opportunities
- Data collection and management for improved herd records

Sunflower Supreme also considers improvements in herd health through a stronger relationship with veterinarians and provides daily management tips communicated through a quarterly newsletter and videos.

“We designed this program to be an educational tool for producers,” Farney said, adding that all of the guidelines can be adopted in any operation that raises replacement females. “With expanded collaboration between producers, extension, and local veterinarians, this program will add value and additional revenue to Kansas cowherds and provide quality replacement heifers to increase the demand for Kansas cattle.”

Participants of the program must be BQA certified. More information is available at www.SunflowerSupreme.org.

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