Written by: Paul Davis | September 21, 2023
As part of my responsibilities at the American Feed Industry Association, I had the pleasure of spending most of last week at the AFIA Liquid Feed Symposium (LFS) in Louisville. This event is planned, moderated and hosted by AFIA’s Liquid Feed Committee, which is a perennial favorite of mine, and with good reason I suppose.
I attended my first LFS in September 2001, when the symposium was interrupted by news of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, – an indelible memory. In 2003, I spoke at LFS in Indianapolis and presented some liquid feed intake research that was financially supported in part by the committee. My major professor, Bill Kunkle, Ph.D., was later posthumously inducted into AFIA’s Liquid Feed Hall of Fame. But the best connection of all at LFS is with the people of the liquid feed industry; they are often described as the “salt of the earth,” “kind,” and/or “generous” cowboys and cowgirls. I agree and couldn’t think of much higher praise to give!
This year’s symposium truly offered something for all attendees. As a ruminant nutritionist, I really enjoyed the presentations, which showed how liquid feeds can improve gut health and efficiency in growing beef cattle.
Improving feed efficiency inherently aids in the sustainability of beef production, and liquid feeds utilize a lot of byproducts and coproducts to create nutritional supplements that enhance the forages that provide the base of beef cattle nutrition.
Speaking of sustainability, LFS attendees were treated to presentations from some absolute professionals in the realm of sustainable cattle production. Gene Lollis, a rancher from Florida, shared some of the ways that sustainability is being practiced on his operation, and fellow Floridian Ashley Hughes, owner and president of Ashley Hughes Consulting, showed the audience how to market sustainability and garner favorability with the public and increase sales.
Pop culture and the influence of agriculture and western lifestyle were on full display as Courtney Dyer, director of market for Priefert Manufacturing, shared how networking and kindness led to getting Priefert’s livestock equipment in the television phenomenon “Yellowstone.” Courtney reminded us that the “Yellowstone effect” has led many more folks to purchase land and pursue the rural lifestyle. As these folks are often new livestock owners, it gives the feed industry an opportunity to be ambassadors for animal agriculture and expand our customer base.
We also were privileged to hear some ‘how-to’ type presentations as Tara Vander Dussen, aka the New Mexico Milkmaid, shared how to advocate for agriculture using social media. Erin Mies and Kristen Ireland of People Spark Consulting shared some of the latest ideas and tips they had to help with companies with employee retention, an issue which plagues not only agriculture but most industries across the nation.
LFS 2023 was not all science and presentations though. We were privileged to break from the scientific program and honor some very deserving folks. The Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) led off the awards segment by recognizing top donors to the Kenny Berg Liquid Feed Research and Education Fund. Next, Westway Feed Products’ Houston, Texas, feed manufacturing facility was presented AFIA’s 2023 Liquid Feed Facility of the Year award. Wes Klett was then recognized as AFIA’s Member of the Year for his myriad contributions to the Liquid Feed Committee and unselfish support of the liquid feed industry. J. Randy Davis was honored as the 2023 inductee into AFIA’s Liquid Feed Hall of Fame. Clearly humbled by the recognition from his peers, Randy shared his thoughts on relationships and his time in the industry, as his son Shawn proudly looked on.
Even with the presentations, workshops and awards, we weren’t all business all the time. Attendees networked and reminisced at our famed ice cream social and two receptions that featured opportunities for “critical liquid supplementation.”
Did I mention that the liquid feed folks are generous? They are! Via an always fun live auction, the group raised more than $32,000 for advancement of the liquid feed industry through education and research.
From science and sustainability to networking and fundraising, LFS 2023 truly had something for everyone and was enjoyable from start to finish. I hope you will consider joining us next year in Salt Lake City, Sept. 10-12, for LFS 2024.