Event explores beef studies

HETTINGER -- Researching new and different approaches to all kinds of ranching is important to further the beef industry. The North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center will host its first Beef Research Review event from 11...

HETTINGER -- Researching new and different approaches to all kinds of ranching is important to further the beef industry.

The North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center will host its first Beef Research Review event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the center to highlight the research being done on anything from early weaned calves to bio-security and how to produce quality beef. The event is called "Developing and Enriching the Region's Production Resources for a More Profitable Future."

HREC Southwest Feeders Coordinator and Assistant Animal Scientist Michelle Stamm will discuss her early weaning calf study.

The study has been done for the past two years since Stamm started at the HREC on May- born calves.

"Most university research that looks on early weaning calves is typically done on March or early spring calving cow herds, but our cow herd is following our production cycle which tends to follow a growth of grasses which is better because we're calving a little later," Stamm said. "When those calves go out to pasture there's good spring growth grass which will help both the cows in producing milk and the calves starting to depend on feeding forages."


By trying to follow normal production in the area with grasses it can help with a better growth of calves, she added.

The first calf crop with the study looked at weaning dates.

"When you bring in wider calves to the feedlot it typically can be a little more challenging to get them used to silage feed," Stamm said. "You can also run into health problems because their immune system isn't quite mature enough. For them being a lighter body weight can be challenging and they take a little more attention from us."

Otherwise, once the animals get going on a new and different feeding system they pick it up well, she added.

The calving study is one part of a larger research project at the center.

The larger project looks at Conservation Reserve Program or CRP land impacts on pheasant populations in the southwest region. HREC Director Chris Schauer and NDSU graduate student Ben Geaumont are heading up most of the research on the affected bird populations and habitats of pheasants, grouse and ducks from grazing of CRP land.

"The cows are a byproduct of their research," Stamm said. "They are the cows grazing on the land."

Stamm is looking at another aspect at how earlier weaning dates influence calf performance in backgrounding feed yards at a younger age and lighter body weight compared to calves weaned at a normal time.


Similar research at the Dickinson Research Extension Center by animal scientist Doug Landblom and others have looked at March early weaning calf herds, but Stamm has not worked with them on it.

A surprising aspect of Stamm's research indicated the first-year calves were at a younger age and lighter body weight when weaned early, but gained weight well once in the feedlot.

"At the end of the first year's feeding trial, the early weaned calves were heavier than the normal weaned calves," Stamm said. "In terms of meat quality and carcass characteristics, there wasn't much of a statistical difference, but in terms of quality grades there seemed to be few higher quality grades with the early weaned calves because they'd been on feed longer than normal weaned calves."

This year the study was repeated looking at weaning date influences, but adding another component.

"The first year we had 65 cows with 34 first calf heifers which didn't have first spring," Stamm said. "The other component we added was raising half of the calves as natural calves and the other half as conventional ones."

Natural calves weren't fed any drugs or ionophores from birth to slaughter while conventional calves were fed ionophores or certain feed additives such as Rumensin or Bovatech to help increase rate of gain, she added.

"This year that's another component we're looking at with our own calves, but that data won't be reported until next year," Stamm said. "This spring will be the third spring with our May born calving herd."

Other speakers at the Jan. 10 event includes agriculture economist Dan Nudell who will discuss his research on locating feedlots through spatial analysis. The research study was done by research scientist Nancy Hodur and professor Larry Leistritz who work in the agribusiness and applied economics department at NDSU.


"They looked at the four state regions of eastern Montana, eastern Wyoming, western North Dakota and western South Dakota," Stamm said. "Their analysis gave them some hard and fast economic information."

The study analyzed population density and age in counties in these areas to see if a new feedlot came to the region would it be supported and support the area well.

"They wanted to see if there were large employment rates and main infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, doctors and a labor pool for workers," Stamm said. "Also, Nancy Hodur will present another joint study done between the three of them which surveyed cow-calf producers in the four state region to see what was done with calves at weaning time."

The three researchers looked at factors that impacted whether or not those calves were backgrounded, if producers retained ownership on the calves through the feedlot period and what kind of challenges producers will see in the next few years, she added. The study was done last spring and this fall, Stamm said.

Presenter Clint Peck, who is the director of Beef Quality Insurance at Montana State University, will present two studies. One is on producing quality beef for global markets and the other is on the bio-security project in Montana on Persistently Infected Bovine Viral Diarrhea.

Peck's visits to South America, Australia and New Zealand offer insights into how cattle production is done in those countries compared to how it is done here, Stamm said.

The bio-security project at Montana State University involved a two-year study testing Montana producers' calves for the BVD-PI problem which impacts feeder calves, she added.

Another speaker at the event is animal science graduate research assistant Beth Stoltenow who will discuss the rate of gain impacting feedlot performances and carcass characteristics. The research used the Warner-Bratzler Shear Force to do sensory taste level analysis on muscle cuts. Stoltenow collaborated with NDSU Associate Professor Dr. Robert Maddock on the sensory panel work.

"The thrust of the study was to look at how the rate of gain during the calf backgrounding period influenced carcass quality and characteristics when those calves were slaughtered," Stamm said. "Most of the research has looked at calves fed, weaned and put on a high grain ration. The impact of the study is that we might need to fine tune our backgrounding requirements or recommendations we give to producers in the northern Great Plains."

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