For several years, Mike Wilson has been a beef producer on the side.

Spending evenings and weekends on his Anderson County farm and days at his job at the auto repair garage he owns, has kept Wilson very busy.

But thanks to education through the Master Cattleman program a one-on-one Kentucky Cooperative Extension partnership, Wilson may be on the way to being a full-time cattleman.

Wilson is in the fifth year of a management and genetics improvement program. He’s been working with University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Beef Specialist Les Anderson and Tommy Yankey, the UK Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Anderson County.

 “I have had the farm since 1999,” said Wilson, who grew up on a dairy farm and has been around cattle all his life. “I worked for several years to clean it up and then started to bring cattle out here in about 2005. I knew the cows were pretty good size when I bought them. I had mostly Simmental and I wanted to cross breed with Angus.”

 “When we began working with Mike a few years ago, he had a very typical commercial cow-calf operation,” Anderson said. “He had fairly decent control over this herd with a calving season of about 70 to 90 days. He had a lot of variation in the type and size of his cattle We wanted to help him make things tighter and more efficient.”

They went to work with Mike to downsize his herd, not in number, but in physical size of each cow and allow him to wrap up the calving season in a shorter window. Through the use of artificial insemination and estrus synchronization, the team helped Wilson do both.

In just five years, Wilson has been able to reduce the frame size of his cowherd, which means he has lower feed costs, but at the same time, he’s seen weaning weights substantially increase by about 100 pounds per calf. That means more money in his pocket.

“I’m now finished with the majority of the calving season in about a seven-day window,” Wilson said. “This program is a great way to go; the calves are about the same size.”

Yankey said Wilson has also benefitted from some of the Phase I settlement funds in Anderson County which have allowed him to purchase scales and handling equipment to keep up with the progress of the herd.

Anderson said components of the program began nearly seven years ago with funding from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board filtered through the Master Cattleman and Advanced Master Cattleman programs offered throughout the state.