The Buckingham Cattlemen’s Association (BCA) holds quarterly educational meetings for the members of the association discussing all topics that may enhance their productivity, marketability, and profitability of their cattle. Educational meetings have been a part of the organization since it began in 1978 and continues to the current day and will continue in the future.
The group sponsors and supports educational programs in conjunction with Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) to bring greater knowledge to members and all area producers through seminars, workshops, and short courses in cattle handling, proper health care, nutrition, reproduction, marketing, genetics, business entities formation, estate planning and farm transition, as well as providing and assisting in compiling data research on average daily gain of cattle, economical livestock practices, feed efficiency and quality, mineral formulation, and vaccine effectiveness. The BCA’s partnership with VCE and its educational presence in Buckingham and surrounding counties has been in existence since its beginning in 1978 and continues strongly today and will in the future.
Month long educational short courses on health, nutrition, reproduction, marketing and genetics began in 1978 and continued yearly until 2003. These courses are scheduled to resume in the spring of 2013 and continue from there.
On the first Monday in August the BCA in partnership with VCE helps to educate the area producers in sponsoring a Tel-o-Auction with the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association to assist area producers in marketing their cattle. Cattle must qualify for a strict vaccination, genetic, and pre-weaning protocol and are also age and source verified. All the qualifications for this sale are put in place to aid in research and knowledge gained in new trends of marketing cattle and educating area producers of what practices will be economically efficient and profitable. The first cattle sale was done in 1986 with one load of calves, 67 head. Today, through increased educational efforts, we now have 26 loads with1765 head of cattle.
The BCA again works with VCE to educate area producers about livestock reproduction. They put out bids to artificial insemination (AI) companies for an educational AI program based on the number of cows and heifers to be bred. The first year there were 250 heifers from 15 producers. Currently this group’s interest in learning about reproduction in their cattle has grown so much that approximately 23 producers now breed over 1700 animals and the BCA in conjunction with VCE and the chosen AI company have started an AI school. The school is a two-day program teaching reproductive physiology and the AI technique. The AI program started in 1997 and continues to this day and will continue in the future. The AI school started in 2011 and will continue to be an ongoing annual educational program.
To further enhance members’ herd strength, individual farm visits occur annually with a veterinarian and the local Extension Agents. Each visit is equal to an individual educational workshop where the producer can ask questions specific to his/her herd, learn about efficiency in agricultural tasks, and receive professional services. The combined veterinary visits include the following: (1) Pregnancy exams and fetal sexing by ultrasound once per year in a group basis for heifers and cows; (2) vaccinating heifers; (3) conducting bull breeding soundness exams; and (4) heifer reproductive tract scoring and pelvic measurements. These annual vital educational programs started in 1997 and will continue into the future.
There is a combined effort between the BCA and VCE to educate members as well as other area producers about superior cattle health, reproductive traits, and genetics, through a yearly commercial heifer sale. All heifers go through the AI program and meet Virginia Premium Assured Heifer program requirements, set by Virginia Polytechnic and State University. They are reproductive tract scored and pelvic measured. They are Brucellosis vaccinated and BVD-PI tested negative. Heifers are ultrasounded pregnant and fetal sexed prior to the sale. All the qualifications for this sale are put in place to gain research and knowledge in new trends of marketing cattle and educate area producers on what practices will be economically and reproductively efficient and profitable. It also allows other area beef producers to benefit from the use of superior genetics, increasing the knowledge and educational gain of not only the members, but also other area beef producers. The first sale was in 2004 and is intended for the BCA to partner with VCE to continue the sale every year, into the future.
The BCA mineral program is another educational and collective research project with VCE. The BCA and its members collected data on local stored forage to properly formulate a supplemental mineral mix that would efficiently supplement the forage in our area. This program has been educational to the area producers in not only proper nutrition through educational seminars, but in researching nutritional values of their forage and analyzing data from fields that were fertilized with different fertilizers. A bulk order from all the members is then submitted to the chosen mill and a local pick-up site is determined for a one day pick-up for convenience and reasonable pricing to benefit the membership. There are usually 20 tons of mineral ordered at one time. The mineral program started in 1992 and there are three orders per year which will continue into the future.
The BCA works with VCE, local veterinarians and animal health companies to provide educational seminars for livestock health and vaccination programs. The educational programs cover proper low stress cattle handling, proper vaccination administration and vaccine handling and storage.
The BCA provides support and sponsorship to the local 4-H Livestock club for their yearly livestock show and sale, the Junior Piedmont Livestock Show and Sale. Members provide animals and educational workshops with the children to further their knowledge in livestock production and care. The BCA also provides the Buckingham 4-H Livestock club with $300 sponsorship money each year since 2009 and will continue this support in years to come.
The BCA provides area farm families with an opportunity to fulfill college goals by providing a $1000 scholarship to an individual from a member’s farm family who participates in a yearly scholarship essay contest. This yearly scholarship was brought about by the Board of Directors in 2011 and had its first awardee in 2012. This is intended to be an annual event to encourage our young farmers who live in an area of Virginia with a very low college attendance rate, to attend college and continue their education.