From Issue Fall 2015
I focus on applied beef cattle research. Our Mississippi cattle auction market study, sponsored by the Tylertown and Hattiesburg stockyards as well as the Mississippi Beef Council and the Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association, is the biggest research project weíve conducted recently. Over the span of this past year, we attended the weekly auctions at several Mississippi stockyards. We evaluated all the bovine animals that came through the auction and rated 35 different traits, including characteristics such as temperament, coat, color, weight and more. We are evaluating the data now, and it should help us identify the economic value of each trait, which will greatly inform the recommendations we make on the extension side. We also have several projects related to pasture-based cattle nutrition. Additionally, we collaborate with the vet school on studies about animal health and wildlife biologists on predation.
How Did The Research Benefit Producers?
The results of the Mississippi cattle auction market study will be immediately applicable to producers. It will give them a huge insight into these 35 traits and how they influence economics. Producers will be able to make profitable decisions on cattle breeding and management based on this real world information.
Name A Specific Time When Your Research Was Applied
In one study conducted at the Prairie Unit and H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center we evaluated the accuracy of four common methods used to determine calf birth weight. We found one way was not reliable at all, one way that was moderately reliable and then there were two ways that were very accurate. We put the information out there. I wrote some articles for cattlemenís publications. I came across a producer in Texas a few years later, a purebred breeder who read one of those articles about our research at Mississippi State, and he told me he switched to a more accurate method of determining calf birth weight based on our research. This is someone hundreds of miles away. You never know how far the research you do goes.
Provide An Example Of A Great Partnership
The Mississippi cattle auction market study drew from beef organizations and industry. The sale barns are cooperatives, the Mississippi Beef Council is an organization that represents cattle producers, and the Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association is the genetic improvement organization for the state. There are a lot of people interested, and Iíve already gotten calls
from people excited to see the results.
Our doors are open. The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and its 16 branches belong to the people of Mississippi.
Discuss Your Role As Executive Director Of The Beef Improvement Federation
The Beef Improvement Federation is an international organization that includes U.S. and Canadian beef cattle associations. It is comprised of extension personnel, researchers, producers,
and industry professionals who are focused on genetic improvement of beef cattle. The organization develops and publishes industry guidelines for genetic improvement and the best practices. I was very fortunate through our state beef cattle improvement association to become involved in the organization; Iíve served on the board for several years and was recently appointed executive
director. Itís great because I am in the room with leading genetic researchers and industry professionals and discuss what is coming down the pipeline in terms of genetic improvements. I know what producers are telling us they want to be doneóthe problems they want scientists to work on. When I think about research, I am not just thinking about the here and now; I am thinking about the future applications of GPS, remote sensing, and the genetic selection for health traits. You could say we are not able to do that yet, but I know that those things are coming. Thatís why it is important to research those technologies now. When those technologies become available and cost effective to producers, we, as scientists and extension personnel, are positioned to guide them.
What Research Are You Looking Forward To On The Horizon?
Technology and genetics.
Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Add?
Our doors are open. The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and its 16 branches belong to the people of Mississippi. They are stakeholders, they are welcome to come out here and see whatís going on, certainly we want them to attend organized events that we have, but they are also welcome to visit and give input at any time.