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 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: 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.

Bagwell

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)

ADS 4221: Beef Group Press Release

  Growth hormones provide more beef, less cattle

MISSISSIPPI STATE– Mississippi State University animal science students advocate the use of growth promoting hormone implants in beef cattle production.

The use of growth hormones in the cattle industry is an issue causing mass skepticism among American consumers. For decades, beef producers have relied on growth hormone implants to improve feed efficiency and enhance lean yield of their herd. By repartitioning nutrients to muscle growth instead of fat deposition, these hormones enable producers to finish their cattle earlier and, thus, conserve natural resources. Production costs for producers decrease by 5-10% from reduced feed requirements alone, while a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases per pound of beef supports the environment. Despite these benefits, public concerns about hormone implants in beef cattle focus on public health and animal welfare.

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This calf enjoys a warm, autumn day in Artesia, MS.

Because the hormones used in growth implants are already present in cattle for normal physiological functioning, all meat products, whether they are “organic” or not, contain hormones. Considering a three ounce serving of beef from an implanted steer has 1.9 nanograms of estradiol and a three ounce serving of beef from a non-implanted calf has 1.3 nanograms, the difference is insignificant and does not account for any negative impacts on animal or human health. Consumers must also be reminded of the strict federal regulatory testing in place to monitor all beef products before they are able to enter commerce. To attest to the minimal stress it causes the cattle, the students met with a local cattle producer to witness the implantation process. The growth hormone implants are released slowly over a period of time in small pellets, which are shot into the ear using an implant gun (shown below).

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This is the tool used to administer growth hormone implants. The white capsule (containing the hormone) gets injected subcutaneously on the backside of the ear of the cattle. Because the ear is discarded at harvest, the implant never enters the food chain.

As Mr. Doug Yelverton, a cattle producer from Artesia, emphasized, “Farmers need to help educate the younger generations, so they know where their food is coming from.” Students hope that openly advocating the research promoting the safety of growth implants in beef cattle, the research refuting harmful public health issues, the positive effects they have on the environment, and the financial benefits trickling down to consumers because of them will ultimately increase the acceptance and confidence consumers have in beef products and display the animal agricultural industry in a more positive light.

“As animal scientists, we must promote the benefits hormone implants serve both environmentally and financially to dissipate these negative perceptions, or our industry will lose the respect it deserves,” explained Jamie Huselton, one of the students determined to educate the public on growth hormone use in cattle.

To learn more, visit the Bost Auditorium on December 4, 2014, at 3 p.m. to view the video presentation created by these students on growth hormone implants in the beef industry.BEEFYelverton

This cattle producer looks at his herd with accomplishment, knowing he has provided them with the best care and necessary resources.   

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.