The UF/IFAS Extension office in Highlands County hosts annual Ag Tours throughout the county between January-March. The purpose of the tours is to promote the agriculture industries within the community. This year, I was able to work with the Okeechobee Extension office in hosting a Livestock Tour through Highlands and Okeechobee counties. We traveled to some great industry stops!
Our first stop was Larson Dairy. The participants were able to see how a Florida dairy works! We visited the milking parlor, free stall barns, and were able to see how they chilled their milk before loading on the milk truck.
United Feed Co-Op
We then traveled to a local feed mill, owned by producers themselves. United Feed Co-Op stop was to learn about how livestock producers utilized feed mills in south Florida. We were able to learn about which feed stuffs are used in south Florida, how the feed is blended, and how it gets distributed to the producers. The railroad is essential in bringing in the raw feed stuffs from out of state. Since the railroad is right beside the feed mill, many livestock producers in Highlands County purchase feed from feed mills in Okeechobee.
Okeechobee Livestock Market
At Okeechobee Livestock Market, we learned the history about the market (family business) and how they run their sales. After the presentation, we ate some delicious cheeseburgers for lunch! One gentleman stated, “This is the best cheeseburger I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t like cheeseburgers!”. Since Highlands County does not have a livestock market, producers travel take their calves or culled cows to this market for sale.
Our visit to Lake Okeechobee was to talk about the current water quality challenges our state faces and potential resolutions.
Lykes Brothers Ranch
The last stop at Lykes Brothers Ranch discussed how Florida is a cow-calf state. Many attendees come from northern parts of the USA, so their beef production is quite different than ours. The ranch manager was able to answer great questions on how we raise our Florida Beef!
Great discussion was held at each tour stop and the attendees had a great day learning about Florida’s past and current livestock industries!
If you are interested in our 2020 Ag Tours, be sure to get on our emailing list! Limited spots are available and they sell out fast! We begin promoting our tours around November 2019 for our January-March 2020 tours. You can call the office at 863-402-6540 to put your name on our list-serve!