Dr. Lee Jones helps cattle farmers find the “bad ones.”

That’s his simple way of describing his job as a beef herd evaluator and reproductive efficiency expert for the University of Georgia’s Food Animal and Health Management program and associate professor for the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Basically, we go out to determine the ones who can’t get the job done,” he said.

Jones, along with two of his students from UGA’s Tifton campus, visited Polk County last week and provided a look at what they do to a group of middle school and high school students in the local Future Farmers of America chapter.

The visit was highlighted by a presentation on the importance of reproductive soundness exams to herd health and stability at Rockmart High School’s Agricultural Facility on Tuesday, March 7, followed by a day of live demonstrations at the ranch of Laura and Glenn Robinson.

Cattle evaluations have become an important part of owning and maintaining ranches as they are able to help owners determine which animals are fit for reproduction and keeping their investment secure as they go through the year.

Last Wednesday’s field day at the Sleeping R Ranch in the Fish Creek area of Polk County provided students with a look at how Jones and his students evaluate both bulls and heifers. This includes both external and internal exams.

“The reason we do this is to check for any fertility issues and then figure out how that will affect breeding,” Jones said. “Expenses don’t take a break, so if production in cattle takes a break then there is no money being made on selling from the herd.”

With technology allowing for better techniques in researching and documenting cattle, Jones said it is important to take advantage of it to become as profitable as possible, as well as ensure each animal is being taken care of and bred to the best of their ability.

Jones said he works to get students out of the classroom and into the real world, meaning in a real production environment or farm.

“We need to see a farmer’s perspective on things and see some of their challenges,” Jones said. “What the Robinsons provide here is an amazing learning experience for these kids. They don’t just show up and leave. They can talk to Glenn and Laura about their operation here and get the most out of it.”

The Robinsons are supporters of Polk County’s agribusiness community and the Polk County Junior Cattlemen’s Association, as well as its show team.

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