The Sunbelt Expo’s oldest, most extensive, and most successful livestock exhibits are devoted to beef cattle. Beef cattle are produced on more farms in the South than any other single commodity.

Expo beef demonstrations began in 1979, the year of the second Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition. Since that time, the beef exhibits and demonstrations have developed a strong following among cattle producers in the Deep South, and the beef section has become one of the most popular exhibit areas at the farm show. Expo visitors once again will find the beef exhibits at location E-8 in the northern part of the exhibit grounds.

This year, the beef presentations will cover a number of vital topics aimed at making cattle production more profitable. At 10 a.m. each day, you’ll be able to catch a discussion of breeding stock selection.

This demonstration will focus on the conformation of beef cattle and how conformation affects reproduction and longevity. The presentation will also focus on how conformation can be useful in selecting animals known for producing high quality beef.

At 1 p.m. each day, the topic shifts to advanced beef cattle production, marketing and management. University and Extension beef experts will discuss beef quality assurance and the National Animal Identification System. You’ll learn how beef records and animal identification data can enhance marketing alternatives.

You’ll also hear how Pasture-to-Rail programs in Florida, Georgia and other states can help beef producers. In these programs, groups of cattle from the Southeast are fed out in feedlots, and carcass data from the animals is collected in detail, and then transferred back to the cattlemen so they can use the information to improve their breeding and management practices.

Other topics to be covered include several USDA programs aimed at documenting beef quality. These include the Process Verified Program (PVP), Quality System Assessment (QSA) and Beef Export Verification (BEV).

Then, at 3 p.m. each day, the demonstrations will focus on the basics of beef cattle production. These presentations will be ideal for would-be and new beef producers. You’ll learn about weaning, vaccinations, worming and how they impact calves produced on beef farms in the Southeast.

Young calves will be worked with practices such as ear tags, injections and deworming. You’ll also learn how dehorning and castration will improve cattle handling and beef quality.

You’ll find out how consistent management practices and uniform lots of calves will bring higher prices when sold.

Hay and forage quality presentations will take place each day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Also, an “Ask the Expert” booth will be staffed throughout each day by Extension specialists and agents from Georgia, Alabama and Florida who will provide information on forage quality and other beef-related topics.

The hay and forage presentations will feature results from the 2006 Tri-State Hay Show in which growers from Alabama, Georgia and Florida submitted hay samples for analysis of Relative Forage Quality (RFQ). RFQ is an index that combines results of tests for protein, energy and fiber digestibility. Hay samples submitted will also be available for inspection in the Livestock Pavilion.

You’ll find the hay samples grouped in several categories such as warm season perennial grass hay, perennial peanut and alfalfa hay, cool season perennial grass hay, mixed and annual grass hay, grass baleage and legume baleage.

The beef demonstrations offer visitors the chance to see the latest in herd health practices and cattle handling equipment. Representatives of some of the nation’s top animal health companies will be on hand to answer questions.

You’ll also get the chance to see a dozen or more of the top breeds of beef cattle on display. The owners of these animals will be glad to discuss their breeds and how they may fit in a modern profitable farming operation.

Some of the beef experts who will be on hand to make these presentations and answer questions in the “ask the experts” booth include Lisa Kriese Anderson and Josh Elmore of Auburn University; Tim Wilson, Johnny Rossi and Curt Lacey of the University of Georgia; and Todd Thrift from the University of Florida. Dr. Mel Pence, University of Georgia veterinarian, will introduce the speakers and serve as master of ceremonies for the presentations.

Some of the beef breeds and breed organizations represented at this year’s Expo will include: American Angus Association, American Belgian Blue Breeeders, American Romagnola Association, W.L. Purvis who will bring halter-broken Romagnola cattle; Georgia Simmental/Simbrah Association; Georgia Hereford Association; People’s Choice Pinzgauers; Pine Ridge Farms with registered Angus cattle; Salacoa Valley Brangus; Southeast Brangus Breeders; Southern Cattle Company with registered Angus and Charolais cattle; and United Braford, a beef breed making its Expo debut.