Beef cattle nutrition and management research projects

Optimizing utilization of distillers grains

Several issues arise when producers use distillers grains, a co-product of the corn-milling industry for the production of ethanol. Of these, storage of high-moisture distillers products, sulfur content—known to cause health disorders in cattle—and possible interaction between distillers grains and incidence of Escherichia coli O157:H7—a known human pathogen harbored in cattle intestines—are of concern for the University of Minnesota Beef Team. Beef Team researchers and students are studying the connection between feeding modified wet distillers grains and Escherichia coli O157:H7 in cattle housed in groups but fed individually at the U of M's Research and Outreach Center in Rosemount. Similarly, studies are conducted testing the effect of including dietary remedies in diets of cattle fed distillers grains containing high sulfur.

Managing the reproductive cycle of the beef cow

Studies have been conducted using the Angus herd at the RROC to determine the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving the response of beef cows treated to receive artificial insemination on appointment. These studies are paramount for the beef industry's reliance on genetic improvement via artificial insemination.

Managing hay waste in beef herds to reduce disease transmission

As a result of the challenges with bovine tuberculosis facing Minnesota producers in the northwest, the Beef Team mobilized its research capacity to respond to managing hay feeding sites to reduce risk of bovine tuberculosis transmission, and waste. Studies conducted at the new animal science teaching facility in the east are designed to determine whether hay feeder design or time feed is on offer impact hay intake and waste.

Improving mixing ability and nutrient delivery using total mixed rations

Feed additives and other nutrients are costly and must be supplied in specific amounts to achieve the desired response in cattle. Studies conducted at the north beef feedlot at the RROC are designed to determine the influence of each type of supplement or feed (wet or dry) on diet integrity and nutrient delivery.

Evaluating effects of therapeutic and management interventions on health and performance of cattle

Several pharmaceutical companies have partnered with the Beef Team to evaluate the impact of several health-management interventions. The research includes the use of new and improved therapeutic antibiotics, or dewormers, and growth-promoting implants on the health and performance of feedlot cattle.

Application of electronic identification and data management

Cattle at the RROC are often under study by animal identification companies to determine the efficacy and longevity of animal identification tags and tag reading systems.

Beef education projects

The Minnesota Carcass Merit Program

The Minnesota Carcass Merit Program at the University of Minnesota's Research and Outreach Center in Rosemount, is one of the U's most successful Extension programs. It is perhaps the single largest "grass roots" grant offered to the University by up to 25 producers a year. The program routinely coordinates shipment, feeding and processing of 400 to 600 cattle initially valued at between $200,000 to $400,000 ($440,000 to $660,000 at harvest). Because of the strong investment by participants, the feeling of ownership of the program and its effectiveness is unmatched by any other beef extension program in Minnesota. In the past six years, more than 2,000 cattle have gone through the program. Participating producers "graduated" to market their calves armed with additional information at sale time, sometimes even retaining ownership of their calves through the feedlot. For many, the program has served as an avenue to make critical changes in the way they breed cows, and for others, the program has served to obtain information on calves sired by bulls they have produced. Because of these useful outcomes, this program has tremendous appeal for those producers who are serious about raising high-quality, high-performance calves. Visit the Minnesota Carcass Merit Program for more information.

Beef Cattle Production Management

The University of Minnesota's Beef Cattle Production Management course is taught annually in the fall. Ten to 20 undergraduates enroll and must participate in weekly laboratories at RROC. During these laboratories, students engage in managing the teaching herd of cattle, and work with feedlot cattle. All health, reproductive and grass management practices are programmed weekly for students to be fully responsible for these. In addition, personnel from allied industries visit RROC during these laboratories and help to educate students and expose them to the real world.

Feedlot internship

Two to four students are selected each year to enroll in a two-week intensive hands-on feedlot internship course at RROC. In the spring, the students prepare to start an internship in a large working feedlot in Minnesota. During their two weeks at RROC, the students are exposed to daily onsite feeding and management routines for cattle. From there, students are assigned to host feedlots where they continue their internship for the remainder of the summer.

Youth education

K-12 students become involved with the University of Minnesota's beef research programs at RROC in a variety of ways: through utilization of cattle at youth judging contests and training workshops, by visiting the facilities through national youth organizations, and by visiting the facilities through the Minnesota Beef Expo experience.

Other activities

  • Cattle produced by the teaching herd and those housed in the feedlot are often used by the U of M livestock judging team for training.
  • Cattle housed at RROC provide ample opportunity for personnel working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to train near their offices in St. Paul.
  • International visitors are often hosted by the U of M Beef Team at the RROC where cattle facilities, cattle and management are featured for them to preview a working U. S. farm operation.
  • A 40-ewe flock is maintained on site for use as teaching models.
  • A small free-ranging broiler flock is maintained by the Alternative Livestock Systems group of the U of M for demonstration. This group also hosts programs for urban dwellers using the beef herd and broiler flock.