Prestage Farm Intern- Deedee Cottonham

PhotosMy name is Dorothy “Deedee” Cottonham and I am from Madison, Mississippi. I am an ongoing junior at Mississippi State University, majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences with a concentration in Science/Veterinary Science. I plan to graduate from Mississippi State University with my Bachelors in Science, and continue on to graduate school.

In trying to make sure that I take the necessary courses for veterinary school enrollment, as well as the graduate program in Animal and Dairy Sciences, I was introduced to the opportunity to engage in a hands-on internship. With this opportunity being offered to me, I researched summer internships for the summer of 2016, to connect with others in the Animal and Dairy Sciences industry and gain some hands-on experience within the field. In doing so, I came across the opportunity that Prestage Farms was offering for ongoing juniors majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences. I applied for the internship and was offered an interview. I was then notified that I received the position.

My internship will include a 2 week rotation throughout the 2016 summer semester. In doing so, every two weeks I will be introduced to a different department of the Prestage Farms Incorporation headquarters in West Point, Mississippi. They have approximately 15 farms, 1 in which is a feed mill and another which is an Artificial Insemination farm. I will have the opportunity to visit many of the farms and receive knowledge and hands-on experience within each department.


This week at the Prestage Farms Incorporation (Mississippi Division), I started my first week at the Artificial Insemination farm located in West Point, MS. On the first day I met up with my supervisor, to discuss how my overall internship experience at Prestage Farms Inc., would be held. I was told by supervisor that I will be visiting each farm division that is a part of the West Point headquarters. In order for me to do so, every two weeks, I will be assigned to a different division of the department. With each division comes different work hours, workloads, and responsibilities. I was then taken to meet the main office coordinator and we went over my schedule for the first farm that I was going to visit, the Artificial Insemination Farm (AI Farm).  I was introduced to the Artificial Insemination Farm employees and team leaders that Monday.

There are three different departments within the AI farm. First is collecting the boar’s semen. At 5:00 am, one of the team leaders and his crew are out collecting semen from the boars to fill the required orders given to the company to fill that day. After collection, the semen is sent to the testing room. The semen is tested for its motility rate. After the semen is tested, an extender is added. The extender is applied by another employee of the AI farm. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I had the opportunity to participate in testing the semen and then applying an extender to it to be packaged.

Once the semen is tested and applied to an extender, it is sent to the third stage of the AI Farm, packaging. In the packaging room, the temperature of the room is kept at 52 degrees F, to cool down the semen once it has reached the facility. In this facility, the semen is packaged through a machine. During this process, the semen is packaged, labeled and divided to be sent out to different farms around the state for insemination of a sow. For the work days of Thursday and Friday this week, I had the opportunity to work in packaging the semen to be sent out to other distributors.

In participating in the Artificial Insemination Farm this week, I have learned interesting aspects in regards to collecting semen from boars, testing the semen and packaging them for distribution.


This week at Prestage Farms (Mississippi Division), I completed my last week in the Artificial Insemination (AI) farm, before beginning in a new department next week. This week at the AI farm, I continued to shadow in packaging the semen to be sent out to different farms across the state. In doing so, I got to participate in the packaging process. I also witness how this machine is operated and managed to minimize machine difficulties.

On Wednesday, I saw the packaging machine have some complications in the process of packaging the semen. With each malfunction, the operator stopped the machine and showed me the problem, and we both fixed each malfunction together.

At the end of the day on Wednesday, the packaging machine operator showed me how to send a machine malfunction report to the IT department of Prestage Farms. The following day, service representative assisted with the technical issues we were encountering. One malfunction was caused due to the needle, which inserts the semen into the package, being screwed on to loose. As we looked at the needle, we realized that due to the needle being too loose, it resulted in the machine inserting the wrong amount of semen into each package. Another issue that service rep assisted with  was the package openings. With this machine, the packaging in which each semen is processed in, is also provided by the same company that issues out the machines. The service rep explained that the packages that Prestage Farms had ordered for the semen to be packaged in, was ordered during their malfunction period, which resulted in Prestage Farms receiving bad semen bags. With that, we realized that that was the cause for the multiple “Bag Malfunction” screens that appeared on the home screen of the machine, multiple times the day before.

Once fixing the problems that had occurred from the machine in the AI center, we were able to get it running again. It was running smoothly in time for us to fill the biggest order of this week, which consisted of over a hundred bags of semen to be sent to Carolina.

Friday of this week was my last day in the AI center. Many ladies within the center had brought cake and baked some pies, as a good bye present for me and the other intern. I have become fairly close to the ladies in the AI center. However, in order for me to continue to experience all the operations and departments within Prestage Farms, I will have to move to other departments. I will be working more with the genetic program of Prestage Farms next week as I move locations. I will be learning the necessary procedures that need to take place, once the piglets are born.






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


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.


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.


.             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.



Ryan Smith

Beef Extension Intern: Trusten Moore


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

South Africa Study Abroad – Erin D.


Introduction photoGreetings from South Africa! My name is Erin Doll and I am twenty years old. I am a junior at Mississippi State pursuing a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences. This summer I am privileged with the opportunity to intern with the Safari4u Veterinary Program. For the next month I will be working with Safari4u in Cintsa, South Africa. This internship is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive understanding of animals in the African context.Throughout this program I will be given the opportunity to work with local domestic animals, livestock, and wildlife. My responsibilities will range from assisting with game capture to working on various community outreach projects. The program is under the supervision of our program vet and in coordination with many individuals in various sectors of the animal industry. This wide range of experiences will be invaluable to me as I work toward my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for me.


This week began bright and early on Sunday morning to catch my first flight to New York. From there I met of with some other interns on my program and boarded our fifteen hour flight to Johannesburg. We then got on one last plane ride to the East London Airport where we met up with our program coordinator. After we settled into our house in Cintsa East, we did a short orientation and hit the ground running. We started by doing a postmortem exam on a bushwhack. Later in the afternoon we went to a nearby Xhosa village. There we did flea dips and deworming for dogs with the program vet.

We started out on Tuesday building a mobile vet clinic for the program. This will eventually be used to give veterinary services to communities in need. In the afternoon we went to modify a trailer for giraffe capture. For giraffe transport, the trailer must be as wind proof as possible so that the animal can stay warm during the trip because they are not able to thermoregulate as well when sedated.


Week 1_giraffe captureWe started the day very early on Wednesday at a private game reserve where we were assisting with giraffe captures. It is a complex process that involves a lot of coordination between the vet, the buyer, the seller, and even the weather. Giraffe are one of the most difficult animals to capture and transport because they are very susceptible to cardiomyopathy and due to their large size they must be walked into the trailer.


Weel 1_Bos indicusOn Thursday we started the day dipping horses for ticks and feeding. In the afternoon we visited a local farm and performed pregnancy checks on a group of cows via rectal palpation. It was interesting to see the differences in cattle breeds here as compared to the US. The majority of the cattle are Bos indicus or hybrids. We also toured the pig operation while we were there.Week 1_pig





Our week ended by taking a tour of Python Park. While we were there we were introduced to various reptile species native to parts of Africa and around the world as well as reptile handling and health. We spent the afternoon touring a commercial fish farm. We were able to observe the different stages of fish being grown out as well as the laboratory where they monitor fish health. The facility we visited is one of the only of its kind in South Africa.










SPARAO Intern – Rykkie C.


My name is Rykkie Cobb and I am currently a junior  majoring in Animal and Dairy Sciences. I have worked at a veterinary clinic for three years during which I did everything from sweeping floors to assisting in surgery. I pay very close attention to instructions when given.  I also have a lot of experience with horses. In addition, I have completed several equine-related courses here at Mississippi State including: horse management, equine behavior and training, therapeutic riding, and advanced equine evaluation. I also have taken reproduction. This formal instruction has helped prepare me to serve as the SPARAO intern this summer.

During my internship, I wish to gain skills that will be beneficial in my professional career and also help me to better understand the research aspect of production. I find research to be a very fascinating, so I hope to learn more about how it applies to the equine industry. I am very dedicated  to working towards my goals in life (to become a veterinarian). I believe during this internship I will  gain more knowledge that will prepare me for life after college.

Town Creek Farm – Michael A.


My name is Michael Agar and I am a rising junior in the ADS department at MSU.Although I was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but I would claim Alabama as my home state. We moved to Auburn when I was only a few months old and have a family farm in Troy, Alabama. I started to get involved in FFA and agriculture when I was in high school in North Carolina; however, when my family moved to Georgia I did not have those same opportunities and sports consumed most of my free time. Growing up, we would make frequent trips to our farm where we raise approximately 50 head of registered Angus cattle, farm pecans, and own chicken houses (layers). This sparked my interest in agriculture and specifically the livestock industry. Going into college I was excited to return to Mississippi. I hadn’t knowingly ever stepped foot in the state, being that I was an infant when we moved. My family is full of engineers who happen to farm on the side and I decided to initially follow in their footsteps when I began my freshman year of college as a mechanical engineer. Although my grades were fine I never really enjoyed the curriculum and when I switched to ADS I knew that I had found my passion. I quickly got more involved with the department as I joined collegiate cattleman’s and the collegiate livestock judging team. I have certainly enjoyed my experience so far and encourage those of you that may be reading this to give judging some thought. The benefits of joining a judging team have already had a factor on my life as it presented me with connections that landed me an internship at Town Creek Farm. Town Creek has become one of the premier Brangus breeders in the entire country when it merged with Cow Creek Farm out of Aliceville, Alabama. They own about 3,000 acres just outside West Point, MS where they primarily produce registered Brangus and Ultrablack Bulls. It is certainly something the state of Mississippi can be proud of and it is a privilege to be their first intern from Mississippi State. I look forward to sharing my experiences at Town Creek throughout the summer!

Darling 888 Ranch – Jamie T.


Intro photoMy name is Jamie Lee Thomas and I am twenty-four years old. This past year has been my first year at Mississippi State University as a senior, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Dairy Sciences with a concentration in Science/Veterinary Science. I was extremely blessed to be accepted on an Equine Reproduction internship this summer at the Darling 888 Ranch in Princeton, Kentucky working with Ms. Dina Allen and Dr. Travis Luna. During this internship I will be get experience managing broodmares and foals along with some hands-on experience that will be required when I become a Veterinarian. I assist the resident vet with things such as lavages, cultures, and ultrasounds. When I am not assisting Dr. Luna, I help Ms. Allen with whatever management practices need to be done for the day such as feeding, haying, administering daily meds, and making sure each horse is healthy and have no injuries. In our typical work week we work approximately 40 hours. I’m very excited about this internship and so far have had an excellent time!

Beef Extension Intern-Tucker W.

Blog post Week 12 & 13

Week 12 was a big week for us in Beef Cattle Extension, the Fall BCIA Sale. This is another one of the big events that we have been preparing for all semester. The BCIA sale is an opportunity for producers with just few bulls to market their bulls through a live auction sale format. On Monday I helped gather the last bit of things to take with us on the sale Wednesday. On Wednesday morning we left for Raymond to prepare for the sale the next day. Once there we had ensure early arriving bulls were in correct pens. We then had to take weights on the bulls also giving them a visual score to help determine sale order. Then that night we had to prepare dinner for the BCIA meeting. Thursday was the sale and my job was to help check out buyers with their purchases. Helping with a sale like this you truly realize the time and effort that goes into them along with the amount of man power needed for a sale to run successfully.

Believe it or not just because a sale is over doesn’t mean the work is done so week 13 was spent finalizing and putting things away from the sale. Earlier in the week Tyler and I took all the stuff we had used out of the storage unit back. While there we also reorganized some things and put up another shelving unit. On Friday we printed out letters to send to consignors and buyers informing them of sale averages and future dates. Along with the letters we will send out detailed invoices for each producer’s records. We should finish these up Monday and have them ready to send out to the buyers and consignors.DSC_0422 (Mobile)

Beef Extension Intern – Tucker W.

Week 9 & 10

On Monday of Week 9, Tyler and I took all the AI school materials out to the shed at beef unit. It was good to finally put away AI school stuff and move on to the next activity. On Wednesday of that week I left for Block & Bridle Convention in Lubbock, TX. While there on Saturday listening to speakers for various areas of animal agriculture, I was able to tweet some interesting quotes and facts from the speakers. I think the MSU Beef Cattle twitter is a great what to get bits of information out to producers, who believe it or not are on social media, along with getting correct information to our consumers. So make sure to follow us @MSUBeefCattle for updates and info.

Week 10 was a slow week were our main task was getting Dr. Karisch moved into her new office two doors down. It took a crew of us to get her moved, but we were able to get it done in one afternoon.  Now our main event is to get ready for the BCIA sale coming up.