Beef Extension Intern: Robert Loftin

2016 BEEF 101 (60)Hello,

My name is Robert Loftin and I am a graduating senior.  I chose to pursue an internship in extension this semester to help familiarize myself with the daily routine of an Extension Agent.  Being that I own beef cattle, this was the ideal position for me as a student.

During my time as an Extension Intern, I have been able to experience the preparation that is involved with events made available for Mississippi producers.  The first big event of the semester was the Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA) sale in Raymond, Mississippi at Hinds Community College.  Weeks before the sale, I helped create the catalogs that would be sent to prospective bull buyers containing information about the bulls that were being auctioned.  The night before the sale, I was able to interact with producers from the state at the BCIA meeting.  During the sale, I helped work the bulls through the chute during the auction.  Interacting with producers was my favorite part.  In the Ag industry, making connections is crucial.

The next event I helped with was Beef Day at Mississippi State.  It was designed for beef cattle producers to learn more about the different cuts of meat and how to figure out carcass data such as Rib Eye Area, back fat, and the USDA grade and how these are determined The meat lab had a steer for the producers to fabricate into wholesale cuts of meat. The best part of Beef Day was eating the Ribeye steaks that Dr. Dinh and Dr. Burnett cooked, now those were good!

Later on in the week was the highly anticipated Artificial Insemination School.  I had helped to prepare for it by putting together binders for people that attended the course.  During AI school, I met a lot of people and helped move cattle and assist people with their insemination techniques.  It was a great few days and I learned a lot about Artificial Insemination.

As an Extension Intern, I learned so much about the events that Mississippi State Extension puts on and I also learned a lot about the day-to-day paperwork that these events entail.  Before my internship, I was unaware of all the preparation that Brandi, Cobie and Mari do to make these informative events, possible.  Thank you to Mississippi State Extension for allowing me this experience.

Robert Loftin

Beef Extension Intern: Ryan Smith

Hello,

My name is Ryan Smith; I am a senior majoring in Animal and Dairy Science. I have enjoyed my 3 years at Mississippi State University and have learned a lot in my time of being here. I have gained a lot of knowledge over the years that have benefited me as a farmer on my family’s beef farm.

During my last semester at MSU I had the opportunity to complete an internship in beef cattle extension. Through my internship I gained knowledge about the beef industry that will benefit me as I try to expand my herd, market cattle through different channels and properly care for the animals.

I had to complete an internship for my major and after talking to Dr. Brandi Karisch, Beef Cattle Extension Specialist, I decided to do the beef extension internship. I felt like I could benefit from this one the most for my personal and professional career goals. During my internship I worked side by side with Dr. Karisch and Mr. Cobie Rutherford on all of the projects they had going on during the semester.

The first project I had to work on was getting information ready for the Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA) bull sale in Raymond, MS. For this I had to help put together the sale catalog and data in on the bulls for the catalog. I also helped with getting the catalogs sent out to producers and potential buyers. One the day before the sale went the sale location to start preparing for the sale and checking in the bulls. That night we helped with the annual BCIA meeting and served the members dinner. The next day at the sale I assisted with the sale bringing the bulls through the ring.

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The next big project I assisted with was artificial insemination (AI) school. This is a weekend class from Thursday night till Saturday at noon educating producers about the benefits of using AI and how to do it properly. This class is composed of hands-on experience, wet labs, and in class learning. I helped to get the material ready for the class and help the producers in learning how to properly AI. During the hands-on lab I assisted with checking passes and helping the producers with trying to get a better grasp on the process and giving them advice on better techniques for performing the process.

Another project I had to do was help get material ready for Law Enforcement Training and Beef Quality Assurance. The Law Enforcement Training program was to assist law enforcement officers with properly handling of livestock when they run into them on the job. This was a great course for officers because there are several times when they are on the job and have to deal with livestock and they do not have the proper training to handle them and end up scaring the livestock more. The Beef Quality Assurance is a course for producers to help them with proper handling of livestock and proper ways to treat livestock such as where to give injections.

One of the last things I did was write an article for the BCIA newsletter. For this article I call Mr. Danny Martin “BCIA President” and interviewed him about his life and plans while being the president of the association. After talking to Mr. Martin a series of questions I took the information he gave me and wrote an article to be published in the newsletter.

SMithBCIANewsletter

.             Doing this internship was one of my greatest decisions in my career as an ADS major at Mississippi State University. This taught me a lot of things about the beef cattle industry and extension. I would encourage any student especially that is interested in beef cattle and extension to do this internship. I have made several contacts during this internship with some great people that will be very useful later on in my life and career. I am very thankful for my career at MSU and everything I have learned while I have been in the ADS department. The people in the department are, just like every other livestock producer I have met, some of the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet. They will go out of their way to help you out and try to teach you everything they can. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at MSU and am looking forward to graduating and going on to the next step in my life.

 

Sincerely,

Ryan Smith

Teaching Youth about Sheep:ADS 4221-Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a nearby county to teach them about sheep

“Speaking of Sheep”

“What are those fluffy white animals that you see on a farm, and why do we have them?” This was the question we asked around sixty kindergartners from in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 11, 2016. Our main project for our Animal and Dairy Sciences senior capstone class was to design and create an “activity box” to teach children about a specific farm animal and why they are significant to the world. Based on our experience with different animals, our group was assigned the animal we had the least experience working with – sheep.

Finding a time for five seniors to all meet up and develop our prop box proved to be difficult; so, our group strategy for the county prop box project was to divide and conquer. We split up the task evenly so everyone had a job to do. Therefore, our “prop box” consisted of five sections: an introductory “Q & A” about sheep and why we have them, a herding activity, a shearing activity, a “feel box”, and a take-home sheep activity book. The introduction included basic information about sheep with a few pictures, and we gave each child their own sheep to use for the subsequent activities (the “sheep” were balloons with faces drawn on them). For the herding activity, the children used shepherd’s canes to herd their “sheep” into a “feeding pen” in a relay-race fashion; and once the sheep were all herded, we informed the children about different forms of feed that they could give to their sheep. After all the sheep were “fed”, the children brought their sheep over to be sheared. For this activity, we placed shaving cream on each child’s balloon sheep to simulate wool; the children then used a tongue depressor to “shear” their sheep. Following the release of the sheep back into the pasture after shearing, the young students were able to participate in a “feel box” activity. The “feel box” was a shoe box with a hole cut into three of the sides with a curtain over each hole so that one could not peek inside. Each separated portion of the shoe box contained a different material: silk, cotton, or wool. After having felt inside each compartment, the children would guess which hole contained the wool before we opened the shoe box to reveal the materials inside.

We were surprised at how receptive the students were to learning about sheep. When we asked the children about their favorite part of the day, they had a wide range of answers, but the general consensus was that the “shearing” activity was the most popular. They were also very excited when they each received their own balloon sheep to care for during our presentation. The teachers informed us that the students never really had the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities like those we provided. The hardest part of the day was keeping a few of the more excitable students focused on the task at hand; however, whenever the students’ teachers were in the room, they all seemed to be on their best behavior. When we asked each class if they had fun learning about sheep, the answer was always a loud “yes!” At the end of each class, we reviewed the students on their new knowledge about sheep, and they were usually able to answer all of our questions. Some of the other funny quotes from the children were “this is so magical!” and “this was probably the best day of my life.”

As we prepare to do a similar activity for the upcoming “Afternoon on the Farm,” we hope to be able to use live sheep in our presentation. After the response we received from the balloon sheep, we believe it will really help the students to be able to see and feel a live sheep (with real wool) while we teach them about these fluffy farm creatures. This was an incredible experience for our group. A much different understanding comes from teaching students rather than always being taught. We had fun enlightening these young children about a part of agriculture that they may have never been able to learn much about, and we were cheerful that the students were excited to learn about the importance of sheep and had fun in the process.

Teaching Youth about Dairy Cattle: ADS 4221-Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note:  This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a neighboring county to teach them about dairy cattle.

This semester we became known as “The Dairy Group”. Our job was to create a
presentation aimed at teaching Junior 4-H kids about the dairy industry. Our first step was to have a group meeting to discuss which areas we wanted to highlight to the students. We wrote out different activity ideas and decided on the ones we liked best. We had hands-on activities to explain the topics of dairy products, feeds, the milking process, and identification. We split the group up in order for each member to more specifically focus on a section of the project. This allowed for a more developed presentation.
On March 8th, we met 15 students at the Clay County Extension Office and spent half an
hour teaching them about our semester’s work. They all had a fantastic time learning to milk a cow and seeing that chocolate milk does not come from a brown cow. They were able to learn about the weight of a gallon of milk and the importance of a variety of feedstuffs. Since there were so many students, we were not able to have one on one time, however the multitude of parents helped to keep the kids focused and attentive. At the end of the night, we were showered with questions from both students and adults alike. Each child went home with a simulated ration made out of different types of candy. Overall, the majority of the group was very attentive and responsible for their sections of the presentation. We enjoyed the project and learning how to interact with students on their level while still teaching them something new. The experience as a whole was interesting and positive.

Teaching Youth about Pigs: ADS 4221-Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note:  This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a neighboring county to teach them about pigs.

Here Piggy Piggy! This semester our group was assigned the swine species. We were
tasked with teaching 6 cloverbud students all about pigs in a manner that targeted their interests and attention level. With such a small group, we were able to give one on one attention during each of our 3 activities. We had an amazing time getting to know the students and teaching them about an industry that affects everyday life. Though the kids enjoyed all the activities, they were particularly fond of playing in the simulated mud. We had an abundance of questions and interaction between the students and their parents, as well as with us. Each child had an area that they were more familiar with, however everyone left with new knowledge. At the end of the presentation, each student took home a bag of mud, a separate bag of bacon and pepperonis, a pig head cut out used for ear notching identification, and a mobile that showed multiple products obtained from pigs.

Our strategy for this presentation was to break down the activities into 3 main sections. We had product, nutrition/health, and identification sections with a hands on activity attached to each. Since we had 6 members in our group, we split and had 2 “teachers” per activity. We had group meetings to discuss each activity and to gather supplies. Every person worked diligently to develop their part of the presentation thoroughly. Overall, the entire group was pleased with our progress and deem this presentation a major success.

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Teaching Youth about Beef Cattle: ADS 4221 Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with youth in a neighboring county to teach them about beef production

Our capstone group was assigned beef cattle for our topic and Webster County for our presentation location. We had several activities planned for the Cloverbuds, ages 4-8. We first briefly explained the difference between beef and dairy cows. We then showed them the basic parts of the cow on a poster we had made and pictures of different breeds. We then went over the history and purpose of branding and had them make their own brands with pipe cleaners. They then stamped their pipe cleaners on a cow outline with paint to “brand” their cows. Next, we had them make puppets and “tagged” the puppets’ ears with a hole punch, while we explained the reason for ear tagging. We also passed around a real brand and samples of feed for them to examine.

There was an education graduate student present that asked the children questions before and after our activities. It was evident that the children grasped the concepts presented in the lecture, as they were all able to easily answer her questions. All of our activities were very hands-on based, which we feel made the children better able to pay attention and learn from the experience. The youth were very well behaved and responsive to us. They were eager to do all of the activities and seemed to enjoy themselves. Our group had a fun time participating in this project with the 4H children of Webster County.

Beef Extension Intern: Trusten Moore

Hi,

My name is Trusten Moore and I am a senior, majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences. You might have read some blogs of mine in the past! Throughout my time at Mississippi State, I have had the amazing opportunity to complete three internships, two of which I gained a class credit for. My first internship was with the USDA, doing research on corn, followed by a summer spent living in Ocala, Florida, working at a specialty equine practice and small animal emergency center. These internships have given me so many connections and have helped me explore many options as a future veterinarian, and for this, I am thankful!

As I was preparing for my last semester, I wanted to find another internship. This semester Dr. Brandi Karisch and Mr. Cobie Rutherford took me under their wing as the Beef Extension Intern. When I first interviewed for the position, I was a little afraid. I was never raised around cattle, so I as afraid I was not the right person for the job. Actually… I knew NOTHING about the industry! Ok… maybe I have been taught the basics in my ADS classes, but still, this was a new world to me! We discussed some upcoming projects with extension and the various roles I had in these projects. Dr. Karisch assured me that I will be fine and that this will be a great learning opportunity.

So, the semester begins…

The semester was off to a busy start! I was hired at a local animal hospital, which made my schedule even more hectic. When I was not in the classroom, I was working. When I was not working, I was studying. As you can imagine, finding a way to manage everything was most definitely a challenge.

My first project of the semester was A.I. (Artificial Insemination) School. This is a weekend class available through the Beef Extension Services. Our goal for this class is to educate producers on artificial insemination and how it can better their production. This class was composed of 30 producers from several different states. We had lectures, wet labs, and hands-on labs throughout the three-day course. I was in charge of helping facilitate the event. I helped get materials ready the week of the event and made sure they were put out and in the right spot during the event. The best part of this event was when I got to “glove-up” and help teach! I have always loved to teach and plan to go into academia as a veterinarian, so teaching producers how to A.I. was such a fun and rewarding experience. This was a moment when I was able to see that my education at Mississippi State has most definitely paid off! Every question that the producers asked me, I was able to answer.

My next big project that I had the opportunity to help with was the Beef Quality Assurance training. This is a program put into place to educate producers on the quality of the product they are producing and how they can improve the quality. Meetings are held throughout the state, and I was able to attend the meeting in Tate County. I helped get the supplies ready and helped with registration. The training consists of doctors from the vet school, beef extension specialists, and extension agents leading the lectures. Participants must sit through the lecture and pass an exam at the end. I passed! I am now Beef Quality Assurance certified! I am glad I had this opportunity because I now know the important roles that our producers play in maintaining good quality meat for consumers. I was also able to use this experience in a recent vet school interview! Isn’t that cool?

These were my two main projects that I was able to help with this year. These projects have helped me grow in the cattle industry and have shown me the many opportunities that extension has to offer. I want to thank Dr. Karisch and Mr. Rutherford for taking me on this semester and for being fantastic role models for the beef industry.

As always, being involved in internships during an undergraduate education is something that I highly recommend to current and prospective students. These internships have given me connections all around the country, which can come in handy later in life. As I sit and reflect on my education at Mississippi State, I am very thankful. I am thankful for the Animal and Dairy Sciences department and the direction this department is heading. I am thankful for all of my professors and the rest of our faculty in this department. My time in Starkville has been unforgettable! Now it is time to walk across that stage and begin a new chapter.

Signing out,

Trusten MooreIMG_7037

ADS 4221: Capstone: Improving Forage Utilization

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with a local livestock producer to solve a production challenge.

ASD 4221 - Little Creek Farm - Hallmark Unit

Our producer is an experienced and savvy cattleman.  This much was apparent when our group first met with him in August to discuss the challenge he presented to us.  He runs a beef cattle operation that specializes in Red Angus and Fleckvieh Simmental seed stock animals.  The producer asked our group to take a 175 acre parcel of land and develop a rotational forage plan.  The goal was for the land to produce enough forage for the animals to graze off of as well extra forage to store as hay for the winter months.  Overall, the producer was looking for 13 months worth of forage to maintain his animals.

Our group started with questions galore.  At first, every answer we found seemed to lead us to more questions.  We explored every aspect of the challenge we could think of.  We delved into soil types, forage types, nitrogen supplementation, animal requirements based off of mode of production, and much more.  With the invaluable help of Dr. David Lang of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, our group was able to sift through the information we had gathered about the land and its carrying capacity.  After hours spent over spreadsheets full of calculations and countless maps of the land, our group developed a forage plan that suited the specific needs of the producer’s cattle as they move through different phases of production throughout each year.

Our group is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with our producer and expand our knowledge in several aspects of animal agriculture.  This forage plan challenge has allowed us to apply the knowledge we gained in a real-world setting.  The project has also taught us about where to look for answers should we not know the answer immediately.  We, as Animal Science students, feel equipped with the knowledge necessary to enter the world of animal agriculture.

ADS 4221:Capstone: Genetic Testing in a Commercial Setting

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with a local livestock producer to solve a production challenge.

During our senior-level “Capstone” class, our group was challenged by a commercial beef cattle producer and veterinarian to increase her herd size and the quality of her cattle so that she can successfully market them to a feedlot.  Our partner asked us to analyze her heifers’ (young cows that have not been bred) genetics using a program called, Genemax  (GMX) Advantage, to decide which heifers to keep in order to expand her herd and continue keeping quality genetics within her cattle. Genemax Advantage is a program used to measure different genetic traits through the DNA of primarily Angus cattle in order to help predict the animal’s future progeny and traits. The producer collected blood from her heifers and sent it to a company to analyze the genetics of each animal. These results allow the producer to compare her animals to one another and other animals of the same breed. Here is an example of a commercial Angus heifer:

Commercial%20angus%20Heifer%202007%20crop

We were also assigned to select Angus bulls with good maternal genetics and docile qualities through a catalog that lists the traits of the bull’s female offspring performance as well as some of his own qualities. The catalog is so in depth, that we can actually see how his daughter’s have performed in other herds as far as milk production, birth weights of offspring, and various other traits with markers that compare each bull to other bulls of the same breed. We researched  bulls offered by American Breeder Service (ABS). We selected bulls to use on these heifers based on maternal, growth, docility, and calving ease characteristics. The producer also requested to use genetically superior, high accuracy bulls. These are examples of bulls we chose:

Secondly, we were given a detailed list of all our producer’s cattle with
genetic markers that compared to other female cattle that were at least 50% Angus. We were able to look at three specific sections of their DNA that were categorized into growth traits (such as birth weight), maternal traits (such as milk production), and profit traits (how much money the cow will be worth as an adult and how much her offspring would be worth). We analyzed the information from the GMX Advantage to make our decision.

Our group began this process by culling heifers whose average trait values were less than 50 (each trait is given on a 100-point scale). Culling these heifers allowed us to keep better genetics in the herd. Next, we utilized peer reviewed articles to broaden our understanding of replacement heifers and genetic selection.

Finishing our challenge, we will now compile all our data and results to present to our producer. We used the knowledge gained through our previous classes in the Animal and Dairy Science Department and personal experiences to make our decision and solve our producer’s challenge.

ADS 4221: Capstone: Nutrition for pasture based pigs

Note: This blog post was written by a group of students in the Capstone in Animal and Dairy Sciences course, who were assigned to work with a local livestock producer to solve a production challenge.

“And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said ‘I need a caretaker’ so God made a farmer.” In 2014, our partner woke his wife in the middle of the night and told her of his dream to become a farmer. Since then, his dream has slowly become reality as his pasture pig operation has hit the ground running, literally.

In all start-up businesses there are going to be obstacles, especially when animal agriculture is involved. Our producer has requested the help from Mississippi State University to address some of their farms challenges in terms of nutrition. The farm’s objective is to raise hogs from birth and finish them out at a reasonable market weight. Based on the niche market in which this farm operates, the diet and management of the herd differs compared to common hog production guidelines. Our primary objective is to create multiple rations for this herd using alternative feedstuffs. In order to not only maintain the body condition of the animals based on their own requirements, but to reduce overall cost of feed and improve upon their management practices.

To do this, we have used resources provided through the university, faculty, and extension service, as well as literature from the Journal of Animal Science. We have developed a framework of both short and long-term modifications to implement as needed. Such as adding infrastructure, harvesting crops, processing feeds, and breeding techniques.

We are grateful for this opportunity to interact with the community and local producers in agriculture. Not only have we been able to help and educate others, but we, as students, have learned a lot along the way.

“That’ll do Pig.” –Babe (1995)

Palo Alto Piglets