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What is the value of an Industry Educational Event such as the Aldam Stockman’s school?

JP Landman, a guest speaker at the 2011 Aldam Stockman’s school put it succinctly when he showed how producer numbers have halved over the last three decades. He predicted that producer numbers will continue to decline over the next decade. However, the numbers of cattle and lamb produced will remain more or less the same. The difference is that the more efficient an better informed producer is the one that will remain on the farm. The production system will change as knowledge changes and producers become better equipped to meet the challenges of the future.

The idea to start a Stockman’s school came from the need to have various sectors in the production chain speaking to one another. This was originally done with the LRF/BREEDPLAN® symposium that was held once a year in Bloemfontein. All sectors of the value chain were represented i.e. commercial producers, stud producers, feedlotters, abattoir representatives and also the retailers. What we have now done is added industry experts in breeding, feeding, pasture science and management, financial planning, sessions on slaughter cattle (with the cattle being evaluated and the carcasses returned for display), and visual appraisal of bulls and cows to create what has quickly become one of the very best industry events that can be found anywhere in the world.

What makes the Aldam Stockman’s school exceptional is not only the 19 local guest speakers/industry experts but also the value that is added from the international guests that are invited. Roger Hunsley from the USA was recently inducted into the USA cattleman’s hall of fame (that includes two USA presidents!). Doc Hunsley has initiated similar schools in Australia, Ireland, Canada, the USA and South America. His lesson on “what is under the hide” is always extremely well received and is a visual demonstration that capacity if often not well understood amongst producers. This year Lee Leachman (arguably the largest supplier of Seedstock bulls in the world) gave an overview of the world’s beef scenario and showed what he does to make his clients produce more profitable cattle. He also showed the value of cross-breeding and spent a lot of time explaining how efficiency should be measured.

The break away sessions are also very popular. Producers can choose 6 out of 11 sessions. These are smaller, interactive working groups where more questions can be asked and last for an hour. They cover topics as diverse as financial planning to the visual evaluation of bulls and cows.

The interaction amongst producers amongst one another and also with industry leaders from all facets adds to the value that the school provides. The management of the school are committed to keep the costs down but at the same time provide leading Southern African producers with the very best educational value possible to ensure that they run even more profitable beef and sheep enterprises. The school is usually fully booked with a maximum of 200 delegates so we suggest you book now for next year.

Dr Michael Bradfield


     Charmaine Alberts
   ■  Tel: (051) 821 1783
   ■  palberts@telkomsa.net
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