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


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:


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

ADS 4221: Capstone: Parasite management in dairy goats

Our producer has Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats, and the operation has been in existence since 2001. There are 52 acres of land in all, but only 9 are fenced in for the goats. The farm’s biggest assets are the acreage of land and the superior genetics within the herd. The production’s primary revenue is showing and selling the offspring.  This has helped promote cheese and milk that is produced on the farm. Our producer is trying to provide feedstuffs to the goats that will give the milk a more desirable flavor for the consumers.  Therefore, many peculiar methods have been implemented to achieve this goal.  For example, our producer’s dairy bucks are prone to accumulating urinary calculi, which is not uncommon. In order to minimize this occurrence, ammonium chloride is supplemented to the bucks. Other supplements that our producer adds to their feed are 12% alfalfa oat pellets, baking soda, sunflower seeds, Purina show feed, beet pulp, and apple cider. With this being said, the main goal is to achieve overall heath for the herd.

The operation’s main challenge that it faces is internal parasite control. Due to goats being a grazing species they are very prone to numerous endoparasites including: nematodes, coccidia, various protozoa, liver flukes, and also various ectoparasites.  Parasite infections may cause goats to be out of production and subsequently detrimental to a farm’s income.  Therefore, our group’s task is to develop a worming protocol that will minimize parasites in the herd.  The producer informed us about the parasitic symptoms affecting the goats. She sstated that ill goats became anemic, coughed repeatedly, and also were prone to pneumonia.  Due to our group’s animal science background, we recommended a possible diagnosis of a barber pole worm infestation.  These parasites are nematodes responsible for anemia, bottle jaw, and death of infected ruminants mainly during summer months in warm, humid climates.  Their nutrient supply is a result of the adult worms attaching to abomasal mucosa and feeding on the animal’s blood.

Once our group investigated possible causes to increased number of occurrences in their farm, we realized that the primary cause was from poor rotational grazing methods.  The goat’s pastures were approximately 5 acres housing around 25 goats.  Therefore, if it is at all possible to expand pastures and implement a better rotational grazing method the parasite occurrence should diminish considerably.  Adequate treatment options include:  selective treatment, culling the infected animals to reduce eggs and the consequent infective larvae and pasture infection level, and also implementing a better pasture rotation protocol.


ADS 4221: Capstone: Beef Basics: Starting a Cow-Calf Operation

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.

Our partner has challenged our group of MSU Animal & Dairy Science students to prepare a plan for him to begin a cow-calf beef operation. With 20 acres of land available, our producer wants to start with 7-10 Red Angus heifers.

This challenge is important to our producer because he wants to successfully enter into the beef industry. For many years, he wanted to start his own operation but never knew where to begin due to a lack of knowledge about the industry. He is now ready to step into the industry as a proud Red Angus beef producer. This challenge, if successfully completed by our group, should allow him to begin his operation with confidence and success.

Our group has many tasks to complete in order to obtain all the needed information. We have already visited our producer’s farm to assess his property and learn about his general goals for his operation.  Our next step will be to calculate the initial investment cost for our partner to begin his operation. These costs will include the purchase of the heifers, feed (grain and hay), any repairs needed on his fencing, a tractor and trailer, water troughs, vaccinations, and dewormer. We will need to determine what types of forages he has on his property so we can decide if these forages should be kept or replaced with a different forage variety of better quality. With his limited space, we have decided that rotational grazing will be most useful for our producer’s operation.  Our producer prefers to utilize natural breeding, rather than artificial insemination, and hopes to purchase a Red Angus bull.  We will need to calculate the costs and benefits of this type of breeding for his operation. Through this process, our group is learning that starting a cow-calf operation is neither easy nor cheap, and that it requires a substantial amount of money, time, and planning to create a successful operation.


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!