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COOPERATOR HERDS - Journal of Animal Science

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COOPERATOR HERDS - Journal of Animal Science Powered By Docstoc
					Problems and possibilities into the next decade involving beef cattle breeding research
                      in the southern region: cooperator herds
                              F. A. Thrift and D. K. Aaron


                              J ANIM SCI 1991, 69:4240-4244.




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       PROBLEMS AND POSSIBILITIES INTO THE NEXT DECADE
          INVOLVING BEEF CAlTLE BREEDING RESEARCH
                   IN THE SOUTHERN REGION:
                     COOPERATOR HERDS',*
                                  F. A. Thrift and D. K. Aaron
                          University of Kentucky3, Lexington 40546

                                               ABSTRACT

      When resources are limited, use of cattle owned and maintained by cooperators to
   conduct beef cattle breeding research in the Southern Region can be a feasible alternative
   to the traditional policy of using experiment station cattle. Former students, former
   experiment station employees, extension personnel, institutional personnel, or tribal
   personnel can serve as suitable cooperators or can aid in locating potential cooperators.
   Several problems can be associated with cooperative work; however, the two most obvious
   are 1) only a limited number of researchable questions can be addressed and 2) complete
   experimental control over the cattle is seldom achieved. The procedure has the primary
   advantage that in most cases all or at least the greatest portion of the expense of owning
   and maintaining the cow herd is borne by the cooperator.
   Key Words: Beef Cattle, Research, Cooperation
                                                                       J. Anim. Sci. 1991. 6942404244

                   Introduction                         1979; Massey and Benyshek, 1981, 1982;
                                                        Bertrand and Benyshek, 1987; Bertrand et al.,
   For the next decade and perhaps longer, 1987; Meacham and Notter, 1987).
opportunities to conduct beef cattle breeding              Assuming that limited and(or) short-term
research involving a relatively large number of funds will be the rule rather than the exception
cattle probably will be limited for most and with the realization that beef cattle
experiment stations in the Southern Region breeding research conducted at the U S Meat        ..
because of insufficient funds. Currently, many Animal Research Center, with its Northcentral
beef cattle researchers are encouraged to seek location, cannot fully service all areas of the
extramural funds to partially or, in some cases, U.S.beef cattle industry, the question becomes
totally support their research efforts. In the one of how to conduct beef cattle breeding
Southern Region, extramural funds for specific research to address problems unique to the
types of beef cattle breeding research are Southern Region. One possibility for conduct-
available through the major purebred associa- ing specific types of beef cattle breeding
tions but on a very limited basis (Benyshek, research involves working with cooperators
                                                        whereby a hypothesis is formulated, an experi-
                                                        ment is designed to test the hypothesis, and
                                                        data are collected using cow herds owned and
    +resented at a symposium tte ' ~ ~ o b l e m and maintained by cooperators. The following
                                  ild              s
Possibilities i t the Next Decade Involving Beef Cattle
               no
Breeding Research in the Southern Region" at the h. items, which are based on experiences of the
Mtg. Southem Sec. ASAS, Febmary 6,1990, Ltl Rock,
                                            ite         authors and others involved with cooperative
AR.                                                     work, address the identification of potential
   2Published with approval of Director of Kentucky cooperators and some of the problems and
Agric. Exp. Sta. as Journal Article 89-5-160.
   b p t . of Anim. Sci.
                                                        possibilities associated with conducting beef
   Received March 26, 1990.                             cattle breeding research with cooperators in the
   Accepted April 23, 1991.                             Southern Region.
                                                  4240




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                                         COOPERATOR HERDS                                          4241
      Identification of Potential Cooperators          niques required to test a specific hypothesis.
    Former Srudents. For academic personnel                Extension Personnel. Cooperative Exten-
holding a joint research-teaching appointment,         sion Service personnel such as county/area
former students constitute a potential source of       agents or state beef cattle specialists develop
cooperators. It should be stressed, however,           many contacts with beef cattle producers
that in most cases few faculty will be able to         within their specific area and can serve a
develop Cooperative work with former students          valuable role in identifying potential coopera-
relatively soon after their appointment because        tors.
some time is required to gain the confidence of            Institutional or Tribal Personnel. Several
 students. It is suggested that this confidence        penal institutions maintain cow herds, and in
can best be gained through an effective                certain cases, productive working relationships
undergraduate teaching and advising program            can be developed as illustrated by studies
and once gained, cooperative efforts can be            resulting from cooperative efforts between
developed by working with two types of                 within state penal institutions and workers at
former students. First, there are former stu-          the Virginia (Marlowe et al., 1979, 1984;
dents who not only have beef cattle experience         Swortzel et al., 1984; Nadarajah e al., 1985)
                                                                                           t
but presently have some responsibility associ-         and Georgia Coastal Plain Stations (Chapman
ated with beef cattle management. This type of         et al., 1970, 1971; Neville et al., 1978, 1985,
cooperative effort contributed to a portion of         1987a,b, 1988, 1989).
the study conducted by Thrift et al. (1986).               Cattle owned by American Indian tribes
Second, there are students who many people in          have been used in cooperative research
the local community believe possess leadership         projects aimed primarily at improving overall
qualities and(or) other favorable attributes.          productivity of the cattle. Previously, person-
This type of former student may not have               nel at the Florida Station cooperated in a beef
direct access to beef cattle but often has             cattle breeding project that involved cattle
several contacts within a community and can            owned by the Seminoles of south Florida. In a
serve a valuable role in making initial contacts       similar manner, workers at the Arizona Station
with potential cooperators.                            (Pahnish et al., 1964; Ray e al., 1970; DeNise
                                                                                   t
    When evaluating former students as poten-          and Ray, 1987; DeNise et al., 1987; Itulya et
tial cooperators, experience indicates that            al., 1987; DeNise et al., 1988; Tanida e al.,
                                                                                                 t
previous academic achievement is a good                1988; DeNise and Torabi, 1989) have worked
indicator of performance as a cooperator.              extensively with cattle owned by the San
Cooperative work previously conducted (Thrift          Carlos Apaches in east-central Arizona.
et al., 1986; Thrift and Aaron, 1987) and
currently underway at the Kentucky Station                Problems Assoclated With Cooperative Work
suggests that students who were relatively high
academic achievers tend to be highly moti-                Several problems can be associated with
vated and often serve as excellent cooperators.        cooperative work; however, the two most
In a similar manner, experience indicates that         obvious are 1) only a limited number of
below average academic achievers tend to be            researchable questions can be addressed and 2)
disappointing as cooperators.                          complete experimental control over the cattle
    Former Experiment Station Employees. Al-           is seldom achieved. The latter is true regard-
though often limited in number, former experi-         less of terms agreed on initially by a l parties
                                                                                                l
ment station employees presently involved in           and may or may not result in a serious
beef cattle management can serve as valuable           problem. With respect to the type of question
cooperators. This is especially true for in-           that can be asked, it is difficult to get
dividuals who were involved with beef cattle           cooperators involved in cooperative work
research while experiment station employees            whereby one or more “Treatments” imposed
because they have a greater appreciation of            on the cattle will result in a level of production
appropriate experimental procedures. Failure to        considered by the cooperator to be somewhat
comply with previously defined experimental            less than “status quo.” Most cooperators will
procedures can be a serious problem when               hesitate to become involved in any cooperative
working with cooperators who have little               work that may result in a potential decline in
appreciation of appropriate experimental tech-         herd production. Thus in most cases, only




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4242                                    THRTFT    AND AARON

 specific questions involving applied types of        working facilities. Most producers have a
research can be addressed whcn working with           headgate, which may or may not be usable, but
cooperators.                                          cooperator-owned squeeze chutes that are
    Other problems associated with cooperative        functional are a rarity. Also, most producers
work involve the failure to collect complete          have limited facilities for holding and sorting
data and the partial or complete confounding          cattle. Experience indicates that a good porta-
of effects by the cooperator. For instance, if a      ble squeeze chute is an absolute necessity
cooperator with limited labor resources agrees        when working with cooperators and a set of
initially to collect calf birth weights during a      portable corral panels can result in a consider-
75- to 9 0 4 spring calving season and the            able saving of time because their availability
cooperator is involved with other farming             can often mean the difference between work-
enterprises such as cropping, birth weights           ing or not working a set of cattle on a specific
may not be recorded on a large proportion of          day. When the cooperative effort involves one
calves born during the latter part of the calving     researcher and several cooperators, getting
season because of overlapping calving and             each group of cattle worked in a timely
planting seasons. This situation occurred in the      manner can become a critical item because the
studies reported by Aaron and Thrift (1982,           cattle work is usually scheduled on a specific
 1984). Failure to collect complete data may or       day by the cooperator so as not to coincide
may not be a serious problem depending on             with other activities.
the trait and quantity of data not collected.
    Partial or complete confounding of effects          Posslbllitles Assoclated With Cooperatlve Work
can be a serious problem when working with
cooperators. For instance, a cooperator may,             The primary advantage of conducting beef
for whatever reason, provide one breeding             cattle breeding research with cooperators in-
group additional supplemental feed or perhaps         volves the cost associated with data collection.
move the breeding group to higher quality             In most cases, all or at least the greatest
pasture without realizing that ultimately ob-         portion of the expense of owning and main-
served differences between breeding groups            taining the cow herd is borne by the coopera-
will be a function of both genetic and                tor. As previously indicated, this type of
environmental differences. Experience indi-           arrangement has worked well for researchers at
cates that approximately 10% of all coopera-          the Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia Stations,
tive work will result in unusable data due to         whereby data were c l e t d using cow herds
                                                                           olce
partial or complete confounding of effects or         owned and maintained by cooperators.
failure of the cooperator to collect specified
data.                                                                       Dlscusslon
    At completion of the fist production cycle
of the cooperative work, it is not uncommon              Even though some problems are associated
for a cooperator to begin to formulate ideas as       with cooperative work, a researchercooperator
to which breeding groups are most productive          relationship can be very productive, but rather
for a given set of conditions. Consequently,          unique individuals are required to make the
when cooperative work extends beyond the              effort successful. For a cooperator to enter into
first production cycle, the cooperator may want       a program involving use of resources such as
to expose the greatest proportion of the cows         land, labor, cattle, and facilities, the cooperator
to bulls of a particular genetic type or perhaps      must be highly motivated and conceptually
expose cows of a certain genetic type only to         able to visualize that some benefit will be
bulls of a specific genetic type. Also, the           realized from the proposed cooperative work
cooperator may request (demand) that certain          In the portion of the study conducted by Trf  hit
breeding groups be discontinued. The latter           et al. (1986) involving a cooperator herd, the
situation is usually encountered when the             Cooperator subsequently benefited by develop-
cooperator receives some type of price dis-           ing a highly productive herd based on a unique
count, either real or imagined, for cattle of a       source of germ plasm for which demand has
certain genetic type.                                 increased. Most beef cattle producers will be
   Another problem frequently encountered             reluctant to become involved if they believe
when working with cooperators is that the             that ultimately little benefit will be derived
average beef cattle producer has limited cattle       from the cooperative effort. Experience indi-




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                                          COOPERATOR HeRDS                                                     4243

 cates most cooperators are concerned with the          agreed on in the “Memorandum of Agree-
 possibility of a price discount for cattle             ment;” therefore, the cooperative work is
 resulting from the cooperative work when the           diplomatically terminated by the researcher.
 cattle are marketed through traditional chan-
 nels.                                                                         lmpllcatlons
     For each cooperative effort, specific re-
 search objectives are proposed; however, ful-             When resources are limited for conducting
 fillment of the research objectives often              beef cattle research, use of cattle owned and
 requires that the researcher make some input           maintained by cooperators to conduct beef
 into management of the cow herd. Thus, to be           cattle breeding research in the Southern Re-
 successful in cooperative work, the researcher         gion can be a feasible alternative to the
 must have, as a very minimum, an understand-           traditional policy of using experiment station
 ing of basic beef cattle management. Also,it is        cattle, and for specific situations, the procedure
 essential that the researcher know how to work                                 l
                                                        merits consideration. Al proposed cooperative
 cattle and be willing to work with the                 work should be evaluated initially in terms of
 cooperator to collect the required data. For           expected output relative to required input. For
 instance, this means helping to work the cattle        instance, in situations in which small herds are
 each year to set up appropriate breeding groups        involved, cooperative work may be excellent
 and working of calves before the breeding              but ultimately only a small amount of data is
 season and at weaning. Almost as important,            collected. Consequently, the ability to detect
 the researcher must have considerable patience         statistically    significant     differences    is
 when working with Cooperators because most             diminished.
 cattle working activities seldom proceed ac-
cording to plan.                                                            Llterature Clted
     The ability of the researcher to simpliQ           Aaron,D.K.andP.A.Thrift.
                                                                               1982.Influenceofcalfgenetic
procedures is almost mandatory when working                 type onpreweaningtraitsunder commercial beef cattle
with cooperators. For instance, the simple                  conditions. Can. I. Anim. Sci. 62:287.
procedure of using different colored ear tags to       Aaron. D. K. and F. A. Tluift. 1984. Influence of sue and
                                                            dam genetic type on preweaning cattle traits. World
denote specific breeding groups can greatly aid             Rev. Anim. Rod. 2057.
cooperators in the event that two breeding             BenysheL, L. L. 1979. Sire by breed of dam intemction for
groups get together during the breeding season.             w a i g weight i Limousin sire evaluation. J. Anim.
                                                              enn               n
     Experience indicates that any proposed                 Sci. 4963.
                                                                                                         aine
                                                       Berhmd, J. K. and L. L. Benyshek. 1987. V r a c and
cooperative work should be detailed in a                    covariance estimates for maternally influenced beef
written “Memorandum of Agreement,” which                    growth traits. J. Anim. Sci. 64:728.
should be signed and understood by all parties         Bertrand,J. K., J. D. Houghand L. L. Benyshek. 1987. Sire x
involved The “Memorandum of Agreement”                      mvironment interactions and genetic correlations of
                                                            sire progeny performance across regions in dam-
provides no assurance that the cooperator will              adjusted field data. J. Anim. Sci. M77.
abide by all items outlined, but if the details        Chapman, H. D., T. M. Clybum and W. C. McCormick.
are developed, initially agreed on by all                    1970. *ding, two-and -breed             rotational CTOSS-
parties, and if the cooperator fails to comply, it          ing as systems for production of calves to weaning. J.
                                                            h i m . Sci. 31642.
is much easier for the researcher to terminate         Chapman, H. D.. T. M. Clybum and W. C. McCormick.
the cooperative work. Failure of the cooperator             1971. Grading and two- and three-breed rotational
to comply with items detailed in the                        crossing as systems for production of slaughter steers.
“Memorandum of Agreement” can be minor                      J. Anim. Sci. 32:1062.
(i.e., the cooperator wishes to breed a favorite       DeNise, R.S.K. and D. E. Ray. 1987. Postweaning weights
                                                            and gains of cattle raised under range and gaio test
cow to a certain breed of bull when the cow                 enviromnts. J. Anim. Sci. 64:%9.
should be. bred to another breed of bull) or           DeNise,R.S.K..D. E. Ray, A.M. Lane, V. L. Rundle and M.
major (i.e., the cooperator wishes to breed all             Torabi. 1987. Relationships among udder shape,udder
cows of a certain genetic type to a certain bull            capacity, cow longevity and calf weights. I. Anim.Sci.
                                                            65366.
or breed of bull). In both situations, the             DeNise, S. K. and M. Torabi. 1989. Genetic parameter
solutions are simple. In the first case, expose             estimates for postweaning traits of beef cattle in a
the favorite cow as requested, complete the                 stressful environment. J. Anim. Sci. 672619.
proposed work, and later delete data on the            DeNise, S. K., M. Torabi, D. E. Ray and R. Rice. 1988.
                                                            Genetic parameter estimates for preweaning traits of
cow. In the second case, the cooperator fails to            beef cattle in a stressful environment. J. Auim.Sci. 66:
cooperate in establishing breeding groups as                 1899.




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4244                                            THIUFT AND AARON

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