Cattle and Small Ruminant IPM Educational Materials: A systems approach that will lead to a sustainable future

Final report for ES18-143

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $79,900.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Auburn University
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Kelly Palmer
Auburn University
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Project Information


IPM practices have been proven to be sustainable and increase environmental quality in cattle production systems. Through the creation of cattle IPM educational materials, we will be aiding the long-term sustainability of cattle production systems in the Southern region. The educational materials will be used to train trainers and ultimately end-users in IPM practices, which will increase their economic well being and quality of life.

As population increases the number of younger new generation farmers increases, improved agricultural management methods and science-based training for new and beginning farmers are critical. The number of beginning farmers and ranchers interested in livestock-based production systems has increased significantly in the last two years as indicated by the demand for educational programming in this area, and continued participation in these events. There is a need to train new and beginning livestock producers in IPM strategies, which will lead to enhanced sustainability in the beef industry within the state and the Southern region.

This project aims to create IPM educational materials, which will bring knowledge transfer into the digital age. Currently, there are no mobile-ready IPM educational materials for cattle producers in the Southern region. This presents an amazing opportunity to increase knowledge, adopt IPM practices, and ultimately improve the economic and social well-being of end-users.

A regional cattle IPM guide was created. Training for regional Extension agents and hands-on training/demonstrations with mentor farmers were conducted. 

Project Objectives:

This project created:

  1. Regional educational materials (cattle IPM handbook);
  2. Train-the trainer meetings (utilizing both in-classroom and in-field learning) on cattle IPM practices to Extension personnel and a group of select mentor farmers.

Due to the restrictions of COVID, this project was modified to include increased hands-on, in-field demonstrations with select mentor farmers. These training opportunities led to long-term transformational change in cattle pest control tactics. These tactics emphasized the use of IPM practices for long-term sustainability and proper resistance management strategies. Although unforeseen, the COVID restrictions led to a new way to conduct trainings and led to more impactful relationships with farmers. 


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Sonja Swiger
  • Dr. Kelly Loftin
  • Dr. Valens Niyigena
  • Dr. Nancy Hinkle


Educational approach:

This project created educational materials for local/regional trainers (ag agents, mentor farmers, ag suppliers). We created a regional beef cattle IPM guide. Train-the-trainer events (both traditional in-classroom learning and in the field hands-on demonstrations) were held for the intended audiences. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Cattle IPM Manual

Create manual for use by Extension agents and mentor farmers.


Beef cattle pest management guide including up-to-date pesticide recommendations.

Outcomes and impacts:

The up-to-date recommendations guide will serve as a reference for Extension agents and producers. The control recommendations were used in all on-farm demonstrations to help establish best management practices for producers. These practices were adopted by all producers (n=16) and led to long-term change. Agents used the manual to help producers on a routine basis. 

Train-the-trainer for Regional Extension Agents

Conduct train-the-trainer event for regional extension agents in Alabama for beef cattle IPM.


A train-the-trainer meeting was held to go over updated practices and control recommendations for beef cattle external parasites. This meeting was held with regional extension agents in Alabama, who will serve as trainers for local producers across the state.

Outcomes and impacts:

Agents are routienly asked for control recommendations by cattlemen who are struggling with external parasite control. This train-the-trainer provided them with the necessary tools to help producers make the right decisions for their operations. 

On-Farm Demonstrations with Mentor Farmers

Train a group of mentor farmers through hands-on demonstrations of beef cattle IPM practices.


A total of 16 on-farm demonstrations were conduced with a group of mentor farmers in Alabama. These demonstrations aimed to help producers make sound IPM decisions, leading to long-term sustainability and sound resistance management practices.

Outcomes and impacts:

All 16 producers implemented IPM strategies on their farms in both 2020 and 2021. They all indicated that they would continue to use the knowledge gained through their demonstrations to make control decisions in the future. These decisions were focused on economic and environmental sustainability. These demonstrations led to long-term transformational change for these mentor farmers. They have since provided guidance to other producers in their regions about the practices they've adopted. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

75 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
16 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
3 Published press articles, newsletters
6 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

18 Extension
325 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

343 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
343 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
16 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:


A train-the-trainer was conducted for Alabama Regional Extension Agents. In Alabama, the Extension system is regionally based with each agent having specialized training in a given area. There are 7 livestock agents that cover the entire state. These agents act essentially as livestock specialists in their given regions of the state. Agents were worked with one-on-one throughout 2020 and 2021 on beef cattle IPM. Identification of pests, cultural/biological/chemical control options were covered. Each agent expressed a gain in knowledge and plans to implement local demonstrations on beef cattle IPM in their regions. 

On-Farm Mentor Farmer Demonstrations:

In 2020, 16 on-farm demonstrations were conducted. Sixteen mentor farmers in Alabama were identified. These producers all have close ties to their local Cattlemen's Associations and Farmers Federations, which led to increased contacts, knowledge transfer, and behavioral change with producers in each region. The demonstrations focused on two of our primary and most economically important cattle pests, horn flies and stable flies. We met with producers and looked at their current operational strategies for dealing with these pests. From there, we made an IPM plan for each producer for the year 2020. All 16 producers implemented the control plans in 2020. They also implemented the continual plans for 2021. These plans focused on long-term resistance management and implementing cultural control strategies to reduce overall pest numbers. All producers used the information gained to hold small on-farm demonstrations with other local producers. This led to transformational change for local producers throughout Alabama. We were greatly restricted from what we could accomplish due to all of the COVID protocols. Traditional learning opportunities were adapted to have more one-on-one mentor farmer initiatives. This led to actual change in behavior of the producer and gave us, as teachers, a unique opportunity to create lasting and long-term relationships with mentor farmers. 


Six presentations across Alabama were given to large producer groups. Three newsletter articles, two in the state cattlemen's magazine and one in the state extension bulletin. These outreach activities had large attendance and reach to cattlemen across the state. 

18 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
Additional Outcomes:

Due to COVID, we were unable to achieve most of what we intended to do. One unanticipated outcome was the development of mentor farmer relationships that have endured past the initial project. We have been able to work with these producers, hands-on, on their farms and make transformational changes in their operations. Each farmer has changed behaviors and implemented IPM strategies, creating both economic and environmental sustainability. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.