Summer 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW6

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GOLD and People Make a Difference


J. Jay Ney
Cooperative Extension System
University of Idaho-Lewiston

J. D. Mankin
Cooperative Extension System
University of Idaho-Caldwell

Edward P. Duren
Cooperative Extension System
University of Idaho-Soda Springs

H. R. Guenthner
Cooperative Extension System
University of Idaho-Twin Falls

GOLD is helping improve the cattle industry in Idaho. The idea of using GOLD came from an Extension process involving many people. Let us tell you how GOLD is helping and what it means.

Before 1984, beef cattle databases weren't available at the county or state level to identify and prioritize needs of the beef cattle industry in the area of competitiveness and profitability. The primary components affecting competitiveness and profitability in Idaho beef herds were neither identified nor agreed to by producers, Extension agents, specialists, research faculty, agribusiness, and the state cattlemen's association.

A statewide Idaho Total Beef Program (ITBP) committee was formed to develop a systematic delivery system that would accelerate the identification of real problems and opportunities for the beef cattle industry. It represented all the key stakeholder groups.

Twenty-seven counties formed Integrated Resource Management (IRM) Committees composed of a veterinarian, banker, county Extension agent, and producers from different geographic areas.

Program delivery has focused on identifying four key indicators affecting competitiveness and profitability in beef cattle: Growth, Open Cows, Length of Calving Season, and Death Loss (GOLD). Once the four key indicators were identified and agreed on by the state and county committees, databases were gathered for each of the key indicators. Educational thrusts for applied demonstrations, field days, seminars, and resource materials now focus on a total management approach and the changes made in the four key indicators.

The success of the ITBP can be measured in dollars appropriated to establish applied demonstrations at the county level - $90,000 - and dollars returned to the state beef cattle economy - $2.4 million annually. However, it was involvement of people from industry, and at all levels of the College of Agriculture (more than 200), that was the catalyst and real reason for success.