MU Thompson Farm board hears updates on beef AI studies, pastures, field day plans
New research at the University of Missouri Thompson Farm beef herd in Grundy County was discussed by the advisory board April 23.
Also, planning for a Sept. 17 field day started. The farmer advisory board listed field day topics they want to hear.
David Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef specialist, told of current research. New timed-AI protocols show promise of boosting conception rates, producing more calves early in the season.
The MU beef team is studying records accumulated on heifers over the past 15 years.
“We’ve collected a wealth of data on heifers in the Show-Me-Select program and from research here at the farm,” Patterson said.
That information is in a new searchable database.
The record system will also be used in a new program, “Quality Beef by the Numbers.”
Most of the farm research and Extension work involves reproduction in beef heifers. Database searches also reveal performance differences among bulls used.
“The AI companies are very interested in this information,” Patterson said.
Rod Geisert, farm superintendent, praised the work of the farm crew that manages and works the herd.
“We couldn’t do our work without them. And we could not do research without the farm and cow herd,” Patterson said.
The staff includes Jon Schreffler, manager; Stoney Coffman, herd manager; and Dennis Hamilton, farmworker.
Geisert said the annual field day would return to emphasizing beef reproduction research at the farm.
“Last year, we scrambled to change the program to report ways to manage beef herds in extreme drought,” he said.
Board member Jim Brinkley, Milan, Mo., asked that the field day include a report on the Quality Beef program and more on what the bull research shows.
During the board meeting, rain and sporadic snow fell outside the renovated farm headquarters.
Some board members reported they fed baled hay to their cows that morning. Their pastures were covered with up to 2 inches of fresh snow.
In a recap of the year, Geisert reminded the board that a steer from Thompson Farm placed first in the live show and second overall among 97 head entered from feed yards last fall in the Beef Empire Days, Garden City, Kan. The farm calves are fed out in Kansas, where they consistently grade all USDA choice and prime at packing plants.
Patterson told of a new five-year USDA grant, one of three awarded nationally, to study DNA profiles for genes related to heifer reproduction. The work will be shared by researchers in California and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In his research report, Geisert said four articles from Thompson Farm studies were reported last year in the Journal of Animal Science. That makes local research available worldwide.
In a farm update, Schreffler said wet weather stopped the spreading of lime on the farm.
“We’re about one day short of being done,” he said.
Lime application according to soil test is a step toward upgrading pasture forages.
To protect the spring grass growth, a field that was tromped heavily in hay feeding was disked and seeded to annual ryegrass. That will be used for grazing and will help prepare the pasture for possible upgrade by reseeding to a toxin-free tall fescue.
The novel-endophyte fescue should improve average daily gains on calves.
Dusty Walter, MU forester, reported updated plans for a timber sale from the farm.
“A timber sale was planned in 2008, but timber prices crashed along with the housing market,” Walter said. “Timber prices are coming back.”
The forester outlined a study of limited grazing by the beef herd in a portion of the woodlands. “I’m a forester, but I realize the economic engine of the farm is the beef herd,” he said.
“We’ll study the impact of limited grazing,” he said. “Foresters don’t favor turning cattle into timber for year-round grazing.”
Thompson Farm is part of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia.