Joe Leathers

General Manager, 6666 Ranch

Joe Leathers has been an employee of 6666 Ranch for 20 years and general manager since 2008. Leathers is an accomplished horseman and cattleman who understands agriculture from the ground up. Reared as the son of a small rancher and cotton farmer, he spent his summers and after school activities in the fields of home. After college, Leathers considered sleeping on the ground as a step up from hoeing cotton, so he left the farm and pursued ranching. Over his lifetime, he has worked for both yearling and cow-calf operations. His greatest accomplishment is his marriage of 42 years and a family of 4 children and 11 grandchildren.

Leathers has the heart of a servant and, as a result, serves in many capacities and organizations. Leathers serves as a Texas Animal Health commissioner representing equines; director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for which he has chaired committees and continues to serve on various committees; serves as an executive committee member of the National Ranching Heritage Association; is heavily involved with Texas Tech University Quail Research; has represented the 6666 Ranch as the Environmental Stewardship Award winner for NCBA Region IV; and is the co-chair of the Producer’s Council for the Cattle Traceability Working Group.


Controlling our own destiny

In his keynote address, Joe Leathers will discuss what it takes to survive in the current cattle industry and what will determine the time ahead. He believes we are at a crossroad and if producers do not take the reins and control the path forwards, others will steer us in the wrong direction. Joe will explain how cattlemen can take the future in their hands and preserve this industry for the next generation.


John R. Erickson

Author & Entertainer

John R. Erickson has written and published more than 100 books, 600 articles, and 150 songs, and is best known as the author of the Hank the Cowdog series of books, audio-books, and musical stage plays. He is a professional performer and has entertained audiences from Key West, Florida, to Fairbanks, Alaska. His stories have won a number of awards, including the Audie, Oppenheimer, Wrangler, and Lamplighter Awards, and have been translated into Spanish, Danish, Farsi, and Chinese. In 2019 he was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, joining authors such as J. Frank Dobie, Walter P. Webb, Elmer Kelton, John Graves, and Larry McMurtry. The Hank the Cowdog series began as a self-publishing venture in his garage in 1982 and has endured to become one of the nation’s most popular series for children and families. Through the eyes of Hank the Cowdog, “Head of Ranch Security,” Erickson gives readers a dose of good, honest humor, as well as a glimpse of daily life on a ranch in the Texas Panhandle. USA Today calls the series “the best family entertainment in years.”

Karla Wilke

Cow-Calf, Stocker Management Specialist, University of Nebraska

Karla Wilke is the cow-calf, stocker management specialist for the University of Nebraska located at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. Her research includes maintaining production cow-calf pairs in confinement to provide grazing deferment for range while maintaining a core herd from liquidation, or as part of a system to reduce dependency on perennial pasture. Additionally, she evaluates alternative uses for crops such as field peas or sugar beets in beef cattle diets when they are rejected for human consumption. Since her appointment in 2009, she has conducted numerous supplementation studies for grazing yearlings. Currently, Wilke is evaluating marketing and supplementation strategies for stocker grazing programs.


Options for managing cows through drought

This session will include topics such as grazing strategies using yearlings to mitigate drought, do’s and don’ts of supplementing on pasture to stretch grass, and feeding pairs in confinement.

Kelli Payne

President, Oklahoma National Stockyards

As a proud fifth generation cow/calf producer, Kelli Payne and her family live south of Mustang, Okla., just a few miles from where her ancestors settled during the land run. She serves as a district director for the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, Class 26 Cattlemen’s Leadership Academy and serves on the TSCRA Marketing and Transportation committee. Payne is the first female to be appointed president of the Oklahoma National Stockyards and only the sixth person to serve in that capacity in its 112 year history.



Clint Laflin

Livestock Extension Agent, Kansas State Research & Extension

Clinton Laflin is a 5th generation cattleman who lives in rural Russell County, Kansas. Laflin serves as the livestock extension agent for Kansas State Research & Extension in Russell and Ellsworth Counties. He also owns and operates C Bar L Cattle Company, raising registered Angus cattle.


Impacts and experiences from the four-county fire

The session will describe what happened and the lessons learned from living through the Four County Fire on December 15th, 2021. The session will focus on how to best deal with a wildfire and will include recommendations for proper recovery following a wildfire.

Dr. Chris Cassady

Technical Beef Sales Field Manager, Biozyme Inc.

Chris Cassady grew up on a diversified, family-owned purebred Angus and grain farm in north central Illinois. He attended Black Hawk East and Texas A&M University and received a bachelor’s in animal science. He went on to receive a doctorate in beef cow-calf nutrition and management from the University of Illinois in 2016. Currently, Chris serves as the technical beef sales field manager for Biozyme Inc., where he serves as a cattle consultant for producers, dealers, and other beef entities. He co-owns C-5 Angus with his family, where they focus on purebred Angus seedstock and youth projects. Chris and his wife, Katie, have three children, Beau, Lincoln, and Tatum.


The beef production cycle and pathway to profitability

There are many different facets and moving parts in beef cattle production, but we all have the goal of being profitable. This discussion aims to take a holistic view of beef cattle production as far as genetics, nutrition, and management to set every cattlemen up for success.

Drew Crisler, DVM

North West Kansas Field Veterinarian, Kansas Department of Agriculture


Animal disease traceability: who cares?…who should care?

Animal Disease Traceability is a system that improves the ability to trace livestock when a disease is identified. Knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when they were at those locations improves the ability to reduce or halt disease spread. Every player in the livestock industry serves a vital role in an effective ADT system, from stockman to exhibitor to veterinarian to animal health official.

Todd Sears

CEO and Founder, Energy Curve Technology

As a Missouri Native, and a seasoned ag tech entrepreneur, Sears recognizes the struggles that farms face every day. For the past 14 years he grew an ag tech company called Intellifarms that was recognized as an Inc 5000 company five years in a row that has now evolved into Suretrack. When Intellifarms was acquired, he started a new journey to build Energy Curve Technology to have technology that is based around soil and plant fertility. Sears has an organic farm located in Missouri with his wife, Georgia, and their three sons. They run a successful hay- and grass-fed beef operation along with greenhouses that serve as a research facility for ECT. Sears takes pride in giving back to the community and serves on several boards.


Complex to simple

Ben Elliott and Todd Sears will discuss their organic operations and how to transition to organic. Also, they’ll discuss how to drive revenue, how to be regenerative, and use those practices as revenue streams.

Ben Elliott

Chief Formulation Scientist, Energy Curve Technology

Elliott grew up in Trenton, Tennessee, a small agriculture town in the western part of the state. He served in the United States Marine Corps for 5 years. He was honorably discharged from a career that spanned more than 60 countries and duty with multiple foreign military branches. Elliott holds degrees in microbiology and analytical chemistry. He has visited multiple foreign Ministries of Agriculture and spoken in many forums where biological agronomy was the topic and taught the transition from standard practices to biology-based practices. Elliott’s current research is focused on the biological effects of soil and plant nutrition across multiple crops and how growers can access alternate solutions for fertility.


Complex to simple

Ben Elliott and Todd Sears will discuss their organic operations and how to transition to organic. Also, they’ll discuss how to drive revenue, how to be regenerative, and use those practices as revenue streams.

Cody Welchons

Nutritionist, Livestock Nutrition Center

Cody Welchons joined LNC in August 2017 after completing his doctorate in ruminant nutrition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Originally from central Florida, Cody completed his B.S. and M.S. degrees at the University of Florida after which he worked for a small feedmill in central Florida before returning to school for his Ph.D. Cody provides technical support for sales and customers in Oklahoma and Arkansas. He resides in Chickasha, OK with his wife Andrea and their dog Solomon.


Feed is high, what should I buy?

Cody will discuss feedstuffs and how the price of other ingredients, along with supply and demand, affect their price. How do we determine what the best value is for a given feeding program?

Corbitt Wall

Commercial Cattle Manager for DV Auction and host of the Feeder Flash daily cattle market summary

Corbitt Wall has a lifetime of experience in commercial cattle production, marketing, and market reporting and analysis. He has been a certified livestock grader and supervisory market reporter for the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for 18 years and a livestock auctioneer for 25 years. He developed a niche in feeder cattle marketing reporting while at the USDA, which evolved into video market reports. In 2014, Wall accepted a position with DV Auction to manage their real-time market reporting service and to host the Feeder Flash.



John Campbell

Winter Livestock, Inc.

Born and raised in Greeley, Colo., John Campbell’s family operated a feed yard, livestock auction, and registered paint horse operation. He received an associate degree from Northeastern Junior College and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. Campbell has worked as field representative, auctioneer, general manager, and order buyer for Winter Livestock, Inc. in La Junta, Colo. for 41 continuous years. He’s been married 36 years to Valerie and has two children, Marissa Struthers of Rosston, Okla., and Collin Campbell of Colorado Springs, Colo.