Livestock Sessions

Whether you raise pigs or poultry, cows or sheep — or don’t yet raise livestock but are looking to start — you’ll find a session relevant to you at our annual conference.

This year, we’ve planned a suite of sessions dedicated to profitability on livestock farms, including sessions on profitably marketing meat, the economics of running an organic dairy in today’s market milieu and grazing cover crops profitably, among others. Read more about these sessions below.

Short Course: Silvopasture

Silvopasture is the intentional combination of trees, livestock and forages as a multilayered system where each benefits from its relationship to the others, with multiple yields harvested from the same piece of land. In this short course, professionals in this emerging field will share their knowledge and experience with the science and art of silvopasture with cattle, sheep and goats.

What is Silvopasture?

Steve Gabriel

Steve will walk us through the concepts of silvopasture, highlighting the benefits, challenges and priorities of this practice. We’ll discuss planning, design and goal-setting, then explore economics and marketing.

Converting Woodlands and Pasture to Silvopasture

Keefe Keeley

Keefe will cover both the conversion of woodland to silvopasture and the process of bringing trees into existing pasture. In this session, we’ll discuss interseeding perennial forages into thinned forests, using native forages, tree protection strategies and the challenges of savanna restoration. Keefe will present data collected on Wisconsin farms.

Grazing Management and Animal Welfare

Diane Mayerfeld

This presentation will explore livestock behavior and managing grazing in silvopasture systems. Diane will discuss design considerations for balancing animal welfare and environmental impacts. We’ll also talk about shade access and improved welfare that may lead to increased production.

Eating Trees: Tree Fodder for Livestock

Steve Gabriel

Tree fodders offer one of the most promising aspects of silvopasture. Learn about appropriate tree species and management techniques to increase productivity and produce multiple yields.

Other Livestock Sessions

Building a Meat Cooperative From the Ground up

Cody Hopkins

Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative supports pasture-based livestock farms committed to regenerative farming practices. The co-op connects member farms with markets and provides support with animal purchasing, processing, aggregation, distribution and marketing. Hear Cody explain his journey in building this cooperative; he’ll discuss business structure, banding together to produce volume and hiring professionals to add value to the business.

Cattle Genetics and Linebreeding

Gene Meitler

Gene will share his knowledge of cattle selection practices and how he learned to linebreed. He will discuss linebreeding for traits that Dr. Jan Bonsma from South Africa taught him – and the profound effect these lessons have had on selection practices that go against mainstream thinking. After 36 years of linebreeding, Gene has developed cattle that grass finish, have excellent fertility and an inbreeding coefficient of 40 percent and above.

Economics of Niche Pork

Dr. Kurt Van Hulzen

Pigs used to be considered the mortgage-lifters on the farm. Learn what is needed to profit in niche pork production from Dr. Kurt Van Hulzen. We’ll explore enterprise budgets based on real-world examples, discuss what scale is necessary to make a living and cover production benchmarks to meet economic goals.

Economics of Organic Dairying

Torray and Erin WilsonDr. Larry Tranel

Join dairy specialist Dr. Larry Tranel and farmers Torray and Erin Wilson in a discussion of how to remain profitable with current markets. Larry will speak on the process of how to do (and how not to do) your farm financial analysis. We’ll take a look at what is needed to do a financial analysis, benchmarks and efficiencies necessary to stay profitable. The Wilsons will share financial records and economics behind grass-based organic dairying.

Grass-Fed Beef and the Value of Carbon Sequestration

Jasmine Dillon

What is the economic value of the carbon on your farm? This session will begin by discussing the carbon footprint of grass-fed beef and the management strategies that affect it. The session will culminate in a discussion of the economic value of sequestered carbon, and emerging opportunities for producers to profit from management practices that promote it.

Grazing Cover Crops for Profit

Meghan Filbert

Cover crops have value as livestock feed – but how much value? On-farm research shows that cover crops can offset the cost of winter feed and put money back into farmers’ pockets. Meghan will share best management practices to maximize the economic value of cover crops, and introduce a decision-making tool developed by Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa State University to help analyze the forage value of cover crops.

Nuts and Bolts of Pastured Poultry Production

Cody Hopkins

Cody will share his experience with pastured poultry production at Falling Sky Farm near Leslie, Arkansas. He’ll discuss a range of topics, including infrastructure design and raising poultry in a mobile Prairie Schooner; managing multiple batches of chickens and turkeys; and processing (custom, state and federal).

Profitable Meat Marketing: Part I

Matt LeRoux

Strategic and specific marketing efforts can help you take full advantage of the market for local meat. In this workshop you will learn how to build sales projections based on the farm’s income goals and market research, select a target market and develop a simple marketing plan to make your job easier.

Profitable Meat Marketing: Part II

Matt LeRoux

You are selling meat, but are you making money? Learn about the Cornell Meat Price & Yield Calculator. The calculator uses your farm’s data to develop pricing for meat sold by the carcass or by the cut. It accounts for production, processing and marketing costs; lets you build in a profit; then lets you adjust the price of each cut until you reach your goal. We will learn the logic behind price-setting and see a demo of the pricing tool.

Q&A: Cattle Genetics and Linebreeding

Gene Meitler

Continue conversations on linebreeding principles and beef cattle genetics in general. Learn from Gene, who has a lifetime of experience in this industry.

Regenerating Degraded Soils With Cover Crops and Livestock

Darin and Nancy Williams

A diversity of crops and livestock is what helps keep the biology in the soil alive and rejuvenated. Come hear from Kansas farmers Darin and Nancy Williams as they share how they have successfully integrated long-term crop rotations, cover crops and grazing livestock. Learn about their regenerative ag principles, like grazing cover crops, and how they’ve come to conclude that soil organic matter is the key to profitability.

What’s the Soil Missing? Integrated Crop Rotation and Livestock

Trent Sanderson

Northern Illinois farmer Trent Sanderson will share practical advice on renovating and improving crop fields with red clover, winter wheat, strip-tilled corn and no-tilled soybeans with cover crops. Trent will also discuss grazing ruminant livestock on annuals and perennial pastures to leave the soil better, and share how he is reducing his dependence on inputs by farming differently.

Wool: Production, Shearing, Processing and Marketing

Regina FrahmEmily Chamelin-Hickman

Wool production can be a profitable enterprise with certain niche markets. In this session, Regina will share herd management techniques and her knowledge of wool processing at mills throughout the Midwest. Emily will teach us how to prepare sheep for shearing, and we’ll explore viable market options for wool products.


Contact Maggie at (515) 232-5661, or