Interpretive Summary: Southern Section 2023 SERA 41 Symposium: Challenges to the adoption rate of research-proven practices in Southeastern cow-calf herds
By: Kerri Bochantin
The 2023 SERA (Southern Extension /Research Multi-state Activity) 41 convened on the second day of the Southern Sectional Meeting to address the challenges that cow-calf producers face in today’s industry and the methods to improve adoption of existing technologies. Speakers, Drs. Matthew Poore, Vitor Mercadante, and Justin Rhinehart, spoke on topics related to pasture management, breeding and genetics, and herd management. Common themes across the presentations were addressing the challenges in having producers adopt available technologies to improve their production practices. Referred to as an “Industry of Tradition”, the cattle industry has a history of maintaining the status quo due to variety of reasons, including socioeconomic issues and disparate production practices. Despite the availability of technologies, there remains lack of use among producers, particularly in the Southeastern region. Current issues outlined included variation in grazing management strategies in overcoming fescue toxicosis and slower inclusion of genetic and reproductive techniques, such as genetic testing and artificial insemination/embryo transfer. Extension services can provide support for cattle producers to rapidly adapt to changes in the market and environmental challenges. Suggestions to encourage producers to adopt new technologies in their practices included building alliances with industry and outreach programs, understanding the needs of the producers, and being creative in solutions. A panel of Southeastern cattle producers were selected and considered “early adopters” of unique grazing management plans and other management strategies. The panel discussed their motivators and optimism in adopting new practices and highlighted the importance of remaining flexible and adaptive in an ever-changing market.