SERA41: Improving Production Efficiency of the Beef Cow Herd in Southeastern

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

SERA41: Improving Production Efficiency of the Beef Cow Herd in Southeastern

Duration: 10/01/2019 to 09/30/2024

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Non-Technical Summary

Statement of Issues and Justification

Utilization of forage from pasture is a major component of beef cattle production in the Southeastern United States. In a survey of beef operations, Asem-Hiable et al., (2018) noted that 96.8% of respondents in the Southeastern United States (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN and VA) keep cattle primarily on pasture. Despite the large numbers of operations that utilize pasture as their primary feedstuff, further work is warranted to better understand the animal/forage dynamic. The Southeastern US has a variety of forages (warm and cool season annual pastures, small grain pastures, warm and cool season perennial pastures) that require unique management systems (cow size, type, supplement type, mineral use). Moreover, increases in input costs (feed and fertilizer) may require beef cattle producers to have a better understanding of what management decisions (supplementation, forage use and type, cow size and type) can be made to ensure that they are maximizing efficiency and thereby sustainability.

Efficiency can be defined as maximizing output with minimal input. In a beef cattle system, production efficiency can be achieved by management decisions of available resources. Therefore, topics such as understanding the relationship between supplementation (feedstuff, mineral and/or both) in beef cattle production and forage utilization is an area that bears examination. Determining antagonistic or additive effects with regards to supplementation is warranted to allow producers to make decisions that optimize production. Production responses to various supplement management systems and interactions with various forage systems across the Southeastern region are necessary in order to develop strategies that Extension personnel can offer their stakeholders.

To further enhance our knowledge base of plant-supplement-animal interactions, understanding how cow size and condition score might affect herd longevity and productivity in the climatic conditions of the Southeastern US is another aspect that can be examined to increase production efficiency. Moreover, determining what management decisions may have impact on long term efficiency (fetal programming, weaned calf immunity, etc) bears investigation.

The previous SERA41,” Beef Cattle Production Utilizing Forages in the Southeast to Integrate Research and Extension Programs across State Boundaries: Development of replacement heifers” was very successful in conducting several region specific and online workshops for producers and Extension personnel. The group also developed the annual Bill E. Kunkle Symposium Interdisciplinary Beef Symposium each Monday of the Southern ASAS annual meeting, and the SERA41 Symposium held each Sunday before the Southern ASAS annual meeting.


  1. Research
    Comments: Determine methods to improve grazing beef cattle efficiency in the Southeastern United States. Examination of specific topics such as supplement, forage types, cow size and associated interactions are further warranted.
  2. Extension
    Comments: Design and deliver multi-state and multi-disciplinary educational programs (onsite and online) that address southeast specific issues for enhancing efficiency of beef production systems including cattle nutrition, marketing, reproduction, health, genetics, and management decisions. Additionally, conduct needed surveys and evaluate common metrics among programs to develop datasets that reflect regional change in management practices.
  3. Symposia
    Comments: Coordinate the “Bill E. Kunkle Interdisciplinary Beef Symposium” at the annual meeting of the Southern Section American Society of Animal Sciences (ASAS) to enhance knowledge sharing within the region and promote regional collaboration, and to coordinate the SERA41 Symposium prior to the annual meeting of Southern Section American Society of Animal Science (ASAS)

Procedures and Activities

1. Evaluate methods to improve grazing beef cattle efficiency in the Southeastern US.
a. Forage/supplement/animal research. Research topics such as supplement/forage interactions examining the commonly used by-product supplements and their interactions among the various forage types available in the Southeast
b. Mineral supplementation and its effects on beef cattle efficiency
c. Beef cow size and production
d. Long term effects of management decision on productivity of the herd
2. Continue the practice of multi-state online and onsite Extension programs.
a. Examples of continuing programs include the Deep South Stocker Conference, the Southeast Cattle Advisor, the Midsouth Stocker Conference, the Tri-State Cow/Calf Conference, and the Four States Cattle Conference.
b. Extension personnel will continue to coordinate and cross state lines to present at various cattle and forage short courses and workshops.
c. Use data from multi-state programming to develop datasets regarding regional management practices and to determine various regional needs
3. Continue the practice of developing and hosting the various symposia that unites research and extension personnel across the Southeast
a. Bill E. Kunkle Interdisciplinary Beef Symposium held on Monday of annual Southern ASAS meeting
b. SERA41 Symposium held prior to the SERA41 business meeting the Sunday before the annual Southern ASAS meeting.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Objective 1. (1) Research and Extension faculty will coordinate at various regional and national meetings and via video conference to discuss and plan research projects as they pertain to enhancing beef cattle efficiency. (2) It is our hope that by collaboratively working together we can develop several overall common research goals that can be used as leverage or as preliminary data for seeking larger funding opportunities for the group (e.g. USDA NIFA).
  • Objective 2. 1. Efforts will be made to deliver at least one program/year to the region utilizing online media/video technology 2. Long standing short courses and workshops (see Procedures and Activities) will continue to be implemented. 3. Development of a common survey to be used across the Southeastern Region to determine regional needs and impact so Extension personnel can better meet producer needs 4. Efforts will be made to conduct at least one yearly workshop(s) (such as the “Improving Soil Health on Pasture Based Farms” in 2018) that address grazing beef cattle efficiency
  • Objective 3. 1. Symposium. The “Bill E. Kunkle Interdisciplinary Beef Symposium” is held at the annual meeting of the Southern Section American Society of Animal Sciences (ASAS) every year. Proceedings from the symposium have been published in the former Professional Animal Scientist (now Applied Animal Science). Similarly, the SERA41 symposium is held each year prior to the Southern Section ASAS meeting.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Information exchanged by members of this project will be of critical value to the beef cattle industry, and to research scientists and Extension specialists working in the area of beef/forage production systems in the Southeast region. The participants of the SERA41 will combine forces with the existing beef cattle commodity groups including NCBA and state beef committees to form a linkage between the Land Grant Universities and our commodity groups. This linkage will be valuable as we exchange information to support and enhance beef production in the Southeast.


The recommended Standard Governance for this multistate activity will be to elect a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers will serve a one-year term with progression of leadership from Secretary to Chair-elect to Chair to provide continuity. Guidelines for officer election will be a rotational basis between Experiment Station and Extension. Administrative guidance will be provided by assigned Administrative Advisors (Extension and Research) and a USDA/NIFA Representative. The Chair will be responsible for organizing the next annual meeting and for coordinating meeting arrangements with the host location. The Secretary will be responsible for writing and submitting minutes of the meeting to the Administrative Advisors and to the website coordinator. Current officers are Dr. Daniel Rivera, Chair (MSU), Dr. Kim Mullenix, Chair-Elect (Auburn) and Dr. Jennifer Tucker, Secretary (UGA). Our meetings are held annually in the first week of February, during the Southern Section meetings of the ASAS

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Log Out ?

Are you sure you want to log out?

Press No if you want to continue work. Press Yes to logout current user.

Report a Bug
Report a Bug

Describe your bug clearly, including the steps you used to create it.