Livestock Symposium answers questions in eight-track blast

Duane Dailey

The Livestock Symposium at Kirksville continues to attract visitors from a multi-state region.

It grew out of farmer curiosity. They’d read about farm innovators featured in farm media. They wanted to hear more. So, volunteers worked together to bring them from hither and yon to Northeast Missouri to share stories.

The idea grew and keeps growing. I’m sure it will be bigger next year. But, near the end of the day Saturday at the event, Zac Erwin, MU Extension livestock specialist at Kirksville, put me off. Ask me in March.

I know the feeling. As a co-director of the annual Missouri Photo Workshop, I was always asked at the end of the week: What town will you visit next year?

Bill Kuykendall, co-director, and I would say: “We’re not sure there will ever be another workshop.” As one wrapped up, we were too far gone to even think one day ahead.

Someone who has not organized and run a big meeting can’t know how many tiny details must be solved before they become big problems.

An advantage of the Livestock Symposium is the team of volunteers. They plan topics, get speakers, and help dip food onto plates at the huge meals.

The catalog shows photos of a 19-member committee, headed by Gary Mattes, long-time chair.

Zac estimated they served 600 beef dinners Friday night. Next day, they dipped 1,000 plates of food. That takes logistics.

Here’s my gripe, too much goes on at the same time. While I was in the beef sessions, which ran all day, there were forage talks running nearby.

Zac said he’d heard that complaint before.

In the coming MU Crop Management Conference, Dec. 14-15, there’ll be three tracks running all the time. That’s when I wish I had a split personality. By the way, enrollment’s still open.

At Kirksville, it’s worse. Much worse. There were eight tracks. Whoa. What’s a journalist to do? Look at this dilemma. While I heard Eric Bailey, new MU beef nutritionist, tell of keeping and feeding calves another 90 days this winter other topics beckoned.

Look at topics the same hour: Winter feed as fertilizer. (Ranch) 6666 horse operation. Understanding dewormers. What’s my goat worth? Fowl from beginning to end. Keeping bees. And walking prices down at a profit.

No, I didn’t need all. I never expect to own a goat. Dailey Acres has been there, done that. Goats are not stay-at-home types. They have more curiosity than a journalist.

But, each track pulled audiences. I’d be kinda curious myself about: “Quilts: Stack-n-Whack and Peeled Back Patchwork.”

I sleep under a quilter’s handiwork. (Thanks, Mom.)

But, just following one track makes worthwhile use of time.

The answer apparently for a lot of people is to come back next year to follow another track. Or, see what’s developed new in the beef track.

Volunteers and their sponsors make a good deal. It’s all free.

The team had a surprise visitor this year. University of Missouri President Mun Choi came opening night.

The surprise: He stayed to learn. He wants to know what Missourians do. He needs to know what they want to learn from MU.

He found a good place to start. Far as I know, that was an all-time first.

I met President Choi a few days after he arrived on campus. At a reception at the Memorial Union, we both arrived at the same time. After stepping inside, I introduced myself. He asked what I did. Then he went off to meet hundreds of faculty and staff.

At the end, we met again near the exit. As we shook hands again, he said: “Good to meet you Duane.” He recalled my name!

I’m glad he said that. My memory for names is so bad I may forget my name. I’ll need his help.

Write to or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203. Tell your Symposium best story.