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Update: Ag Division Livestock Research and Demonstration Projects

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I want to take this opportunity to provide a brief update on some of the research and demonstration projects that are ongoing in the Agricultural Division. There are currently 55 projects underway. I'm going to address a few of the livestock-oriented projects in this article. In the future, I will provide updates on projects from other disciplines.

Utilizing Feedstuffs to Compliment Cattle Production on Winter Pasture
(Evan Whitley, principal investigator)

Preliminary results from this project, which compares the differences in stocker cattle performance on small grains pasture stocked at varying rates using soybean hulls to complement the forage production, indicate there could be economic justification for increasing stocking rate/acre while providing free-choice access to soy hull pellets. This project will be carried out for at least one more year before a final analysis will be conducted.

Supplemental Systems for Winter Stockers
(Ryan Reuter, principal investigator)

This project was initiated in February 2005. The objective is to obtain average daily gain, supplement conversion ratio and associated net return resulting from different combinations of energy, mineral and ionophore supplementation programs.

The treatments in this project are:

  1. Control - no supplementation, no mineral
  2. Mineral - regular winter pasture mineral (no ionophore) fed free choice
  3. R1620 - regular winter pasture mineral with 1620 grams/ton of monensin fed free-choice
  4. Soybean Hulls + R1620 mineral - 2 pounds/head/day soybean hulls fed three times/week plus R1620 mineral fed free choice.
  5. GOLD- 2 lbs/hd/day soybean hulls with a mineral package and 75 grams/ton monensin milled into the pellet fed 3X/week, no additional mineral.

Due to lack of moisture during March and April, we did not get as long a grazing period as we would have liked for this project. Therefore, this year's data may not be representative of a "normal" situation.

The Development of a Relative Pricing Index for Energy Based By-Products
(Evan Whitley, principal investigator)

This project was initiated in April 2005; the 200 steers will be on this study until about early July. The objectives of this study are to determine the performance differences for cattle fed 0.75 percent of their body weight one of five commonly available "energy" based by-products and to develop a pricing index for these feeds to be used by livestock producers to assist with their purchasing needs.

The five by-products used in this study are: wheat midds, soybean hulls, barley malt sprouts, distillers' dried solubles and corn gluten.

Utilization of Half-sib Cows to Increase Uniformity of Growth and Carcass Traits
(Billy Cook, principal investigator)

The main objective of this project is to compare variation in growth and carcass traits between closely related (half sibling) versus traditionally selected cowherds. Two hundred head of 1/2 sib virgin heifers and 200 head of traditionally selected (trad) heifers were purchased in fall 2003. The 200 traditional heifers were selected from 10 Noble Research Institute cooperators in groups ranging from four to 45 head, which should accurately represent the genetics found within the Foundation's service area. These traditionally selected heifers were "average or better" black, predominately Angus, 2003 spring-born heifers, selected by Ag Division livestock specialists.

Heifers were randomly assigned to one of two breeds of bulls to which they will be mated. One group of 100 1/2 sib heifers and 100 trad heifers were A.I. bred and then naturally mated to full-sib Angus bulls, while one group of 100 1/2 sib heifers and 100 trad heifers were A.I. bred and then naturally mated to full-sib Limousin bulls.

The first calves were born this spring, and the first calf heifers are currently being bred for their second calf. Preliminary calving and birth weight data are included in Table 1.

All the projects discussed in this article are still in progress and final data compilation and analyses have not been conducted, so no conclusions should be drawn from this preliminary data. As each of these projects is completed, analysis will be conducted and appropriate articles will be written so that producers can use the resulting information with the ultimate purpose of helping them reach their production and economic goals.