Kentucky Beef IRM  
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Initial Strategies

Phase II Strategies

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Strategy Accomplishments











Blueprint for Progress



An educational plan for changing Kentucky’s beef industry 

  Prepared by:

Beef Integrated Resource Management (IRM)

Coordinating Committee

Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service

University of Kentucky

July 1995 • Revised March 2001




The Integrated Resource Management (IRM) concept was first introduced into Kentucky in 1981. Since that time, several impact application demonstrations were conducted, primarily by members of the beef Extension group. In order to have maximum impact, this educational effort should be a true integration of disciplines and should also be conducted on a statewide basis.

In early 1995, a University of Kentucky Beef IRM coordinating committee was formed to develop a Beef IRM Extension program and to implement it statewide. This coordinating committee presently consists of:

Curtis Absher
Les Anderson
Darrh Bullock
Roy Burris
Jimmy Henning
Benjy Mikel
Patty Scharko
Doug Shepherd
Roger Sparrow
Jim Akers
Jennifer Hunter

Assistant Director for Agriculture
Agricultural Economics
Animal Science - Beef Reproductive Physiology
Animal Science - Beef Breeding/Genetics
Animal Science - Beef Nutrition
Agronomy - Forages
Animal Science - Meats
Veterinary Science - Ruminants
Agricultural Agent - Hardin County
Area Program Director
IRM Activities Coordinator
IRM Records Coordinator

Beef Integrated Resource Management is recognized by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture as a model of interdisciplinary programming. This effort is consistent with one of the recommendations in the Ag. Project 2000 - "A Comprehensive Master Plan for Kentucky Agricultural Economic Development" which is to implement a Beef IRM program for Kentucky in order to achieve its agricultural production potential.

Extension Beef programs should be structured to meet the needs of a diverse group of Kentucky cattlemen. Kentucky has approximately 44,000 operations with 1.1 million beef cows. Although most producers have relatively small herds, there are many larger herds in the state:

Size of Herd (cows)

No. of Producers (%)


38,000 (86.00)
4,000 (10.60)
1,470 (3.40)
30 (.06)

Therefore, the IRM coordinating committee felt that diverse educational programs are needed to meet the needs of each group of producers.



Mission of the Beef IRM Coordinating Committee

The coordinating committee worked to develop a mission statement which would accurately reflect what we wanted to accomplish. The following basic values led the committee in the development of our mission statement:


Should not

Be able to reach a large and diverse audience through locally-driven programs
be educational
value group answers
be self-sustaining
be publicly accountable
be for the public good
cause individuals to make better decisions
be satisfied with a few demonstrations
have specialists functioning as public-paid private consultants
become a vehicle for product promotion

With these things in mind, the following mission statement was prepared:

The Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service (KCES) Beef Integrated Resource Management (IRM) program will change the Kentucky beef industry in a measurable, positive way by providing a dynamic educational program that benefits the maximum number of beef producers with small, medium and large herds. This program will use an integrated approach to provide the beef industry of Kentucky (beef producers, allied industry, KCES agents) with interdisciplinary, unbiased, research based, training and resource materials to enhance an individual's ability to make decisions.

Mission emphasis is on sustainability through:

Information Integration
Goal Development by Producers
Environmental Soundness
Consumer Acceptable Products
Quality of Life in Rural Kentucky



















































































Strategies to Accomplish Mission (Phase I - Initial Strategies)

The committee identified strategies to begin to fulfill this mission. These initial strategies were:

I. In-service Education for Extension Personnel

Educational opportunities are offered to Extension personnel according to their needs.

A.  Basic Agent Training - This training exposes new agents, or agents without livestock backgrounds, to basic principles of beef production and economics. This training is conducted by an interdisciplinary team of specialists and includes hands-on training.
B.  Advanced Agent Training - A graduate-level course in beef management for agents with beef backgrounds or in beef dependent counties is offered. Agents received classroom instruction and hands-on training in an integrated format. This builds upon discipline-specific training, with the belief that an answer from an integrated learning approach should be a superior answer. It also included structure and functioning of local IRM teams.

II. Educational Opportunities for Beef Producers

Educational opportunities are offered to meet the needs of a diverse group of producers with differences in herd size and experience.


Kentucky Beef Book - This integrated reference book was written by specialists in beef nutrition, beef cattle breeding, beef reproduction, forages and production economics and meat science. It is a reference book for extension agents and all Kentucky beef producers.


Develop Beef/Forage Management Calendars - Calendars were printed for in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 with suggested management practices listed for each month. Producers can select management practices from the list and apply them to their calendar so that it becomes their management plan.


Continue TQM (Total Quality Management) Video series - This set of videos has been shown to beef producers in over 100 Kentucky counties. The videos deal in the "awareness-phase" of several beef cattle disciplines.


Develop video series which are a follow-up of the TQM videos. Videos will illustrate in-depth hands-on training of various management practices along with integrated subject matter.


Develop and encourage use of a baseline survey for guidance in local programming - This survey is being used by counties to identify deficiency areas in beef production in order to plan county IRM programs and to more appropriately utilize specialists' input.


Utilize Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) Software - This software will integrate production and economics. The astute producer will receive answers to questions like "what areas of my beef operation are inefficient?" or "should I bale my own hay, have it custom baled or purchase?" Production software (like CHAPS) will be incorporated into the economic analysis.


"Cow College" -  An intense training on a fee basis is provided for beef cattle producers which desire in-depth training on the latest beef management procedures. This will include hands-on training in such skills as pasture management, artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis, calving assistance, processing feeder calves, balancing rations, using the latest technology such as EPD's and software, etc. This approach is for the professional manager or the individual that desires a concentrated course. The fee is required because of small class size, facilities and products required, and extra expenses not normally associated with extension education.


Phase II - County-based Program Delivery

Strategies to Accomplish Mission
"Beef IRM is a concept, not a rigid program. Every county comes up with their own plan. As long as the program is producer driven and addresses producer needs, it can work, no matter what form it takes."

As applied to cattle producers, Integrated Resource Management (IRM), is a beef management concept in which the key performance indicators of an operation are analyzed, decisions made, and action taken to ensure maximum profitability and competitiveness through the optimum utilization of all available resources. An IRM program, developed by an IRM committee or team, is a sequence of actions that is both educational and responsive to the needs of cattle producers who want to improve their management practices.


Step 1:  County Agent participates fully in UK Beef IRM Advanced Agent Training.

Fall 1996 - 26 agents participated
Fall 1997 - 16 agents participated
Fall 1999 - 25 agents participated
Fall 2001 - Planned

Step 2:

County Agent identifies local beef industry "stakeholders" and/or leaders.

Beef Industry Stakeholders List
County Ag Development Council
County Extension Council
County Ag Advancement Council
Local Beef Cattle Association
County Extension Beef Committee
Ag Project 2000 Committee
County Extension Council
Agricultural Committee County
KCA Beef Leadership Development Program Participants

Step 3: County Agent and/or the above identified beef leaders, conclude that Integrated Resource Management is an Extension programming effort that can have a positive impact on local beef operations and the local beef industry.

Current Extension Plan of Work
Ag Census and Statistics Information
Past County Beef Surveys

Step 4: County Agent and/or beef leaders agree on who should participate on the County Beef IRM Coordinating "Team" or Committee.

Executive Committee of Local Beef Cattle Association
Extension Agent, Veterinarian, Agri-business, Lender, Producers,
     Feed Dealer, Order Buyers, Stockyard Manager
Executive Committee of County Ag Development/Advancement 
Ag Project 2000 Committee
Identified Individuals from Beef Industry Stakeholders List
KCA Beef Leadership Development Program Participants

Step 5: County Agent and/or County Beef IRM Team distributes a baseline survey to beef producers in the County.

Basic Baseline Computerized Survey instrument developed by IRM Coordinating Committee, similar to Beef Cow-Calf Survey
Beef IRM - Beef Management Information Survey
Locally developed survey instrument
Agent training on survey methods
County Beef IRM Calendar Survey

Step 6: County Agent sends survey to Dr. Darrh Bullock who summarizes the baseline survey.
Step 7:  County Agent and two members of County Beef IRM Team attend IRM Planning Conference
Resources:      Agent and producer interaction and planning session held at a location where value-added concepts can be studied.
     Identify those factors which limit economic performance.
     After those factors are identified, it should be determined which are the most limiting.
     Develop a systematic approach that will improve economic performance.
     The factor which the most limiting gets immediate attention then, after correcting that problem, attention can be focused on the next most limiting problem.
     KCA Beef Leadership Development Program.
Step 8:  County Beef IRM educational program is implemented and evaluated. Leadership team which has completed the workshop in Step 7 will lead the development of county programs following techniques and examples used there.

Example programs (might include but not limited to):
Replacement Heifer Sales
Grouped Feeder Calf Sales
Retained Ownership and Cooperative Feeding Programs
Grazing Schools
Production and Economic Analysis
Rotation Grazing Demonstrations
Critical Success Factors to Determine Economic Impact
Agent Training
Computerized Software
Comprehensive Cow-Calf Demonstrations
Group purchasing of inputs
"Master Cattlemen" schools




Curtis Absher - Assistant Director of Extension for Agriculture. Former beef specialist and National IRM program coordinator. Phone: 859/257-1846

Beef Cattle

Jim Akers - IRM Activities Coordinator. Educational events and county activities. Phone: 859/257-2892

Les Anderson - Extension Beef Specialist - Reproductive Physiology. Management of reproduction in beef cattle, certified heifer sales and synchronized breeding. Phone: 859/257-2856

Darrh Bullock - Extension Beef Specialist - Breeding and Genetics. Breeding programs for beef cattle, record keeping programs, using breeding values, crossbreeding and EPD bull sales. Phone: 859/257-7514

Roy Burris - Extension Beef Specialist - Nutrition and Cow-Calf Management. General beef cattle management, nutrition, beef/forage systems, feeder calf sales. Phone: 270/365-7541, X208

John Johns - Extension Beef Specialist - Nutrition and Backgrounding Programs. General beef cattle management, nutrition, ration balancing and backgrounding feeder calves. Phone: 859/257-2853

Benjy Mikel - Extension Meats Specialist - Muscle foods. Carcass evaluation, quality assurance and value-added concepts. Phone: 859/257-7550

Patty Scharko - Extension Ruminant Veterinarian. Health management for beef cattle, disease diagnostics, vaccination programs and quality assurance. Phone: 859/253-0571


Jennifer Hunter - IRM Records Coordinator. SPA analyses, record keeping and economic analyses. Phone: 859/257-7272, X267

Steve Isaacs - Extension Agricultural Economist - Farm Management. Overall farm management and records analyses. 859/257-7255

Lee Meyer - Extension Agricultural Economist - Livestock Marketing. Marketing beef cattle, using futures contracts for price protection and feeder calf sales. Phone: 859/257-7276.


Larry Turner - Extension Agricultural Engineer - Livestock Environment, Facilities and Systems. Design of handling facilities, housing and related structures. Phone: 859/257-3000 X109


David Ditsch - Extension Agronomy Specialist. Forage management, establishment, variety selection, soil fertility, and revegetating disturbed sites. Phone: 859/257-9511 X231

Jimmy Henning - Extension Forage Specialist. Forage selection, grazing management, hay making and variety testing. Phone: 859/257-3144

Garry Lacefield - Extension Forage Specialist. Forage selection, establishment, grazing management and hay making. Phone: 270/365-7541 X202




Kentucky Cattlemen's Association

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council

National Cattlemen's Beef Association





UK Beef IRM Strategy Accomplishments

Basic Agent Training:

 Three sessions held: September 1995, at Princeton and Cumberland Falls; September 1996 at Princeton.
43 Agents from 41 counties, representing some 366,000 Kentucky beef cows (30.5% of the state's beef cow herd) participated in the three day training sessions.
38% of those attending rated the training experience as Excellent, 22% stated: "it was the best I've ever attended"
Agents stated that marketing and forage management were the most limiting factors to beef producer profitability.

IRM Calendars:

5,000 calendars printed and made available to agents in December 1995. Another 4,000 printed in February 1996.
Video developed and an agent training held on how to conduct a producer meeting involving "customizing" and using the calendar.
93 counties conducted IRM calendar meetings with producers in 1996, with some 7,000 calendars requested for these meetings.
National Cattlemen's Association IRM Task Force developed a national IRM calendar and "stickers" based on the Kentucky project and received a national sponsor.
Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK, also developed an IRM calendar based on the KY model.
1997 calendar revised into a 18-month calendar. 7,000 printed.
1998 calendar revised with 5,600 printed.
1999 calendar revised with 4,000 printed.
2000 calendar revised with 4,000 printed.
Southern States Cooperative distributed it in their service area in 2000.

The Kentucky Beef Book:

(ID-108) Beef IRM Coordinating Committee and other specialists authored this integrated beef/forage reference book. First copyrighted printing completed in December 1996. 
Also available on-line via University of Kentucky College of Agriculture's Home Page.

Video Development:

Introduction to Kentucky's Beef IRM Extension Program video developed, shown to all agriculture agents statewide.
Video on EPD's completed and distributed. Training video on Beef IRM Calendar developed and distributed.

Advanced Agent Training: 

First training began September 1996 at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park with four more sessions held through December 1996. 26 agents participated, on an invitation only basis, from counties representing the top counties in terms of beef cow numbers. Second training began in September 1997, involving four sessions, with 16 agents participating. Trainings included agents which represented 67% of the state's beef cow herd. 
Training sessions were held at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Office in Chicago, IBP's Packing Plant, Joslin, Illinois, North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Quantum Cattle Feeders Feedlot and two farmer feedlots in northern Illinois, Aurora Packing, and at UK in Lexington.
This graduate level course was awarded special grants from the Barnhart Fund for Excellence and the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association.
70% of the agents rated the training as "Excellent, best I've ever attended".
Proper forage/pasture management, marketing skills, and genetics were listed by the agents as the most limiting factor(s) in their county beef operations. 
Product consistency was most often listed as the number one issue facing today's beef industry.

Timetable and Responsibilities for Accomplishing Results




Basic Agent Training

Roy Burris


Kick-off Orientation to APD’s; CEA’s

Darrh Bullock


Customized Management Calendars (3 yrs)

Jimmy Henning

10/95 - on-going

Educational Opportunities
Beef Book

Roy Burris


Advanced Agent Training

Doug Shepherd

10/96 - on-going

Baseline survey for Agent Use

Patty Scharko


State Leadership Meeting



"Cow College"

Les Anderson

1999 - on-going

Incorporate Producer Economic Software

John Anderson

Fall 99

Value-added study tour


March 1999/ March 2000/
March 2001

Coordination of County Programs

Jim Akers