International Livestock Congress and CS Cattle Trail

In July, several CYLs attended the International Livestock Congress held in Calgary on July 10th and many also volunteered with the Calgary Stampede Cattle Trail exhibit – an interactive and engaging presentation on the beef cattle industry. A few of the participants shared their experience:

Daniel Doerksen from Gem, AB attended ILC:

ILC was an informative conference with knowledgeable speakers from different areas of the ag industry.  There was a very positive outlook for the future of agriculture with China’s middle class growing to 400 million people and global food demand rising by 1.5%.  This could open up more opportunity for the Canadian cattle industry.  A big highlight for me was hearing Lee Leachman talk about their cattle operation and how they are using BIO Track to improve profitability on their ranch. Since my mentor is the General Manager of BIO (Mike McMorris) it was really great to here from someone who is using the program.

Amanda Elzinga from Sherwood Park, AB attended ILC:

I was able to attend ILC in Calgary in July and am very glad I took the opportunity. Being surrounded by such positivity within the beef industry was a genuine treat. It was great to see how many young people were involved and enthusiastic about the era we are entering. For me, one of the major highlights was the panel discussion on profitability. No matter how much you agreed or disagreed with the speaker’s methods, there was something to be learned from all 4. One of the beauties of the beef industry is that there is no right answer, but in Lee Leachman’s words, “the only trait that matters is profitability.” Dr. Catlett’s talk was one of the most entertaining I’ve ever heard, but provided some very thought provoking messages, and was another highlight for me. We are not a part of a stagnant industry, but rather one that is embracing technology and gaining strength. ILC was a great reminder of this, and provided some solid facts and ideas to back this up.

Carollyne Kehler from Steinbach, MB received one of the student bursaries to attend ILC and participate in the bursary tours. As well, Carollyne volunteered at the Cattle Trail display:

In July of this year I was privileged to be accepted into the International Livestock Congress (ILC) Student Program and given the chance to volunteer at the Cattle Trails Exhibit at the Calgary Stampede. I had a blast at both events and learned heaps about the beef industry, both nationally and internationally.

The ILC involved one day of presentations and two days of student tours that ended in a student forum in which the topic of discussion was sustainability. The first day of presentations encompassed topics such as economics, food safety, research, maintaining  profitability, genetics and the inside scoop from a meat processors perspective. All the speakers were dynamic and well versed in their area of discussion but the highlight, for me, was the last speaker of the day; Dr. Catlett from New Mexico. He had an inspiring and hilarious talk on what the future holds for the beef industry. His mantra; “the beef industry knows no bounds.” I fully agree!

The tours were outstanding! We started at Olds College and proceeded to tour Nature Calls composting company where they take manure from their feedlot, combined with logging waste and create potting soil to sell to companies such as Miracle Grow. We toured Sunterra Market a unique company that integrates livestock production and processing with direct sales through their local product and quality focused grocery stores and restaurants. It was a treat to tour and taste test at that stop on the tour. We also visited the GrowSafe Systems manufacturer, SAIT Polytechnic Institute to learn about upcoming RFID technology, Feedlot Health Management Service and Livestock Identification Services.

The best part of the tours was hearing the engaging and often unexpected questions from the diverse group of students. The perspectives of students from across Canada, the USA, Australia and Ireland made the conversations captivating and extremely dynamic, not to mention humorous.  Since the congress ended one of the students drew my attention to an Australian conference that was on a subject related to my master’s project. I would never have known about it if I didn’t have that connection. The beef industry is a small world; I’m looking forward to eventually bumping into many of the people I met on the ILC tours.

The Calgary Stampede is a spectacle to behold! Watching the chuck wagons fly by at an arms length away was awesome. At the stampede there are so many events to take in, so much action and a ridiculous amount of people. People who often made their way through the Cattle Trails exhibit, which I was proud to help with. I answered lots of questions ranging from ‘what kind of cow is this’ to involved questions about controversial subjects. Something that surprised me was, when asked “have you ever seen a calf being born” lots of people said yes. Often it was their grandparents, parents, uncles, or neighbours that had a farm that they helped on or visited.  I believe the Cattle Trails exhibit is a great way to teach people about the beef industry and also learn about perspectives from outside the industry.

Thanks to the CYL program for helping me get involved in the ILC student program and volunteering at Cattle Trails and thanks to everyone involved in organising these events. I hope that I was able to make a valuable contribution because I know I sure gained a lot from both experiences.

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