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Western Illinois University livestock judging team
WESTERN WINNERS: The Western Illinois University livestock judging team members hold their awards from the National Western Stock Show.

Quick Take: Livestock judging, bull sale and more

WIU wins National Western Stock Show. IPT Bull Sale details. Apply for Farm Credit Illinois’ Directors Cup. Winter-hardy miscanthus found.

WIU livestock judging team wins national show

The Western Illinois University livestock judging team finished first in the senior college livestock judging contest at the National Western Stock Show recently in Denver.

WIU students who placed during the competition include:

Swine. The team placed third. Drew Lamle, a junior ag major from Fort Wayne, Ind., was third-place individual, and Blake Hennenfent, a senior ag major from Gilson, was fifth-place individual.

Sheep and Goats. The team placed first. Morgan Carrick, a junior ag major from Blanchard, Mich., was fourth-place individual, and Jeremiah Cupps, a junior ag major from Burlington, Ky., was seventh-place individual.

Cattle. The team placed third. Gage Hank, a junior ag major from Aledo, was sixth-place individual. The team was fourth in cattle reasons.

Reasons. The team placed third. Hennenfent was fifth individually, and Lamle was sixth.

Overall. Carrick placed seventh overall, and Lamle was eighth overall.

Carload Judging Contest. The team placed fourth. Cassie Perrin, a junior ag major from Coopersville, Mich., was second-place individual, and Devon Boyer, a junior ag major from Blandinsville, placed 10th.

The team is coached by Mark Hoge, WIU associate professor of agriculture, and WIU MBA student Hayden Wilder of Remington.

“This win is a tremendous milestone for our program,” Wilder says. “It marks the first time that the WIU judging team has won Denver in many, many years. This group of students has worked incredibly hard for the past month. They are absolutely dedicated to progress and improvement.”

2019 IPT Bull Sale coming up

The 2019 Illinois Beef Expo will once again kick off with the annual Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale at 11 a.m. on Feb. 21.

In its 51st year, the sale will include 59 cataloged bulls, with 23 mature bulls and 36 yearlings. A breakdown of the breeds includes 31 Angus, 17 Simmental and Simangus, and 11 Polled Hereford. The sale will be held in the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

According to Travis Meteer, IPT Bull Sale manager and beef cattle educator for University of Illinois Extension, 4,740 bulls have sold in the IPT sale over the past 50 years, for more than $8.7 million total.

Along with strict requirements for superior expected progeny differences, bulls must meet some of the most rigorous requirements in the industry.

“These bulls don’t just have to pass the test — they have to pass every test,” Meteer says.

“Highlighting the 2019 sale will be several genetic-powerhouse bulls that have light birth weight, high growth and carcass desirability,” he says. “Proven breed leaders, AI sires and legendary breed icons fill the pedigrees of the bulls. There are truly unique combinations of performance, pedigree and phenotype offered through the sale.”

The IPT Bull Sale catalog, along with supporting information, can be found online at

Young farmers: Apply for $5,000 award through Farm Credit Illinois

Farm Credit Illinois recently introduced the FreshRoots Directors Cup recognition, designed to celebrate young and beginning farmers. An online application is now available and must be submitted by March 31. Up to four young and beginning farmers will be recognized with the award later this spring.

The Directors Cup award is part of the FreshRoots young and beginning farmers program, which provides lending assistance and learning incentives to farmers up to age 40 or in their first 10 years of farming. Cooperative members applying must be eligible for the FreshRoots program and have been an FCI member-borrower for at least three years.

“The board of directors is proud to present the FreshRoots Directors Cup to young and beginning farmers prioritizing personal growth and professional development,” says Eric Mosbey, FCI board chairman. “We are proud to support today’s newest farmers taking proactive steps to invest in their future.”

Contact your local FCI office for additional information.

Winter-hardy miscanthus identified

Planting the perennial grass miscanthus is a decade-long investment. But if a cold winter happens to strike in the first year, all bets are off.

The cold sensitivity of the crop has limited its adoption in Northern climes, but new research from the University of Illinois shows a way forward for would-be miscanthus growers in cold regions.

“We wanted to find miscanthus genotypes that could withstand the cold,” says Erik Sacks, plant geneticist in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I and co-author of two new studies.

The majority of miscanthus currently being grown for biomass is a single, cold-sensitive genotype, known commercially as “Illinois” for the location of its introduction to the U.S. For years, Sacks and other plant breeders around the world have been making crosses and exploring the native region of miscanthus, trying to find and develop novel cultivars with more desirable agronomic traits.

In one of the new studies, Sacks and his colleagues planted 13 of these cultivars the May before an unusually cold winter in Urbana, between 2013 and 2014. One hybrid stood out.

“The Nagara hybrid didn’t know there was a winter in 2013-14. It was perfectly fine,” Sacks says. “Here in the North, I’d say something like Nagara is a much safer bet for a farmer.”

The researchers observed that first-year miscanthus plants are much more susceptible to damage from cold winters than mature, established plants. The researchers continued to monitor the plants, including their survival rate and biomass yield, until the spring of 2015.

Sacks notes, “The take-home lesson is that winter-hardiness is something we need to be very concerned about in the Midwest and New England and anywhere else with a harsh winter. We need to be selecting for hybrids that farmers don’t have to worry about each time they plant. We already have an immediate solution to that problem here [with] Nagara, and there are others coming along from my research group.”

Sources: Western Illinois University, University of Illinois Extension, Farm Credit Illinois and University of Illinois, which are solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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