Information Avenue for the Beef Industry by klz10308

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									Information Avenue for the Beef Industry
Oklahoma State University’s Willard Sparks Beef Research Center
By: Chris Richards, Clint Krehbiel, D.L. Step and Don Wagner




O
          klahoma State University          and Extension Service in USDA. The         Animal Science were combined to
          serves as an information av-      grant required the procurement of 1:1      complete the center. The final cost was
          enue for many people, in-         matching funds. Support for match-         in excess of 5 million dollars.
cluding Oklahoma’s cattle producers.        ing funds was sought through Sena-              The combined state and com-
Through the Willard Sparks Research         tor Don Nickels and a committee of         munity efforts resulted in what was
Center, OSU Department of Animal            prominent cattle and industry leaders      touted as the finest university receiv-
Science and College of Veterinary           to garner political and private funding    ing and feedlot facility in the country
Medicine provide receiving and              support.                                   to conduct research and education
confinement cattle feeding research             Randy Ward and John Hughes             related to high-risk, shipping stressed
information to the Oklahoma and US          served as committee co-chairs and re-      and feedlot cattle.
cattle industry. The Sparks Center also     ceived help from Haskell Cudd, Deely            Sparks Center is 80 acres west of
serves as an educational platform for       Carroll, Ladd Hitch, Paul Hitch, Walt      Stillwater and has the capacity to hold
undergraduate, graduate and veteri-         Woolley, Jr., Don Gill and Dan Wagner,     980 cattle. The facility has a 24 pen
nary students.                              as well as other volunteers. On advice     receiving area for backgrounding and
    In the early 1990s, OSU focused ef-     from Senator Nickels, the facility plans   64 four to eight-head pens used for
forts on developing a modern, sophis-       were split into two phases to aid fund-    feedlot trials. This design allows for
ticated and centrally located research      ing procurement.                           multiple research experiments to be
facility for confinement cattle feeding.        Completed in 1996, phase one in-       conducted simultaneously.
The goal needed a location near cam-        cluded the central barn, working facili-        Feeding resources include a five
pus equipped to handle both receiving       ties and receiving research unit. Phase    bay commodity shed, six overhead
and finishing activities.                   two, finished in 1998, added finishing     storage bins, two liquid supplement
    Historically, feedlot research          pens.                                      tanks, a 250 cubic foot feed wagon and
conducted at OSU spread across                  Tireless efforts, from many people,    an 84 cubic foot feed wagon.
various locations including Ft. Reno,       yielded over 200 donors composed of             Commodities commonly main-
the Purebred Breeding Center, the           individual cattle producers, county        tained include ground alfalfa hay,
Nutrition-Physiology barn, the former       cattlemen associations, OCA and com-       ground grass hay, dried distillers
steer shed, and Goodwell. In 1977,          mercial businesses. In total, Oklahoma     grains, and ground corn. Supplements
OSU Department of Animal Science            raised 1.5 million dollars to match the    in meal or pelletted form are made
and College of Veterinary Medicine          federal grant program.
began focusing research on nutritional          The largest donation came from
and health management of high-risk          Dr. Willard Sparks, an OSU alumnus
cattle and shipping fever in feedlot        from Dibble.
cattle at the 920-acre research center in       Additional state capital improve-
Pawhuska, OK.                               ment bond monies from the Division
    To facilitate building the new facil-   of Agricultural Sciences and Natural
ity Don Wagner, with assistance from        Resources and the College of Veteri-
Don Gill and Ron Johnson, submitted         nary Medicine, as well as funds from
a successful grant proposal to the Co-      the Oklahoma Agricultural Experi-
operative State’s Research, Education       ment Station and the Department of




32      Oklahoma Cowman
at the OSU feedmill for inclusion in         riod, calves were placed into six-head      in animal identification, OSU has been
diets. Alfalfa and corn are purchased.       finishing pens based on the number          working to test and evaluate current
Ground and grass hay are produced            of times treated. Calves were finished      technologies and emerging active
on OSU facilities and can be ground          and followed to the harvest facility.       (battery operated) ear tag technologies
in a tub grinder shared with the OSU         At the harvest facility, standard yield     developed to read long ranges for use
Dairy.                                       and quality grade measures were col-        in both management and trade.
     Sparks Center conducts its daily        lected, the calves’ lungs were evalu-           Along with the ear tags, there have
operations with faculty coordinator,         ated for damage, and meat samples           been a number of other monitoring
Clint Krehbiel, clinician, D.L. Step,        were collected. The meat samples are        technologies being developed, tested
one full time manager, Roy Ball, one         currently being evaluated to deter-         and evaluated at OSU for their ability
graduate student research coordi-            mine the effects on tenderness and          to aid in cattle management. These in-
nator and up to 12 undergraduate             eating quality.                             clude measurement of bio-markers in
student employees. This provides a               The Sparks Center also serves to        calves’ breath and continuous remote
valuable learning experience about           finish cattle for research evaluating       monitoring of cattle’s temperature.
the responsibilities of running a feed       production systems common to Okla-          The measurement of temperature in
yard for a graduate student and gives        homa. One recent experiment com-            the rumen is demonstrating the ability
undergraduate students an employ-            pared OSU spring born calves from           to accurately detect when cattle have
ment opportunity to gain experience          a single herd split into two groups         a high temperature and also respond
with animal health, cattle feeding and       with one group going directly on feed       to other events such as water drink-
conducting quality research.                 at the Sparks Center for feeding as         ing. The use of continuous rumen
     The center also provides learning       calves and the second group going to        temperature monitoring is giving
opportunities for a large number of          grazeout wheat pasture before being         OSU researchers a unique insight into
graduate students conducting research        finished at the same location.              the variation occurring in a normal
at the center and veterinary medicine        Feedlot entry weight was 980 lb for         animal’s temperature and changes in
students learning how to identify and        grazeout calves and 493 lb for calf         response to a magnitude of health,
treat sick cattle. It serves as a hands-on   feds. Wheat pasture calves required         biological, and stress events. This
teaching location frequently used for        43.2 bushels of corn fed over an 88         technology appears to have great op-
undergraduate classes and hosting ex-        day finishing period compared to            portunity to aid OSU faculty in future
tension and producer group meetings.         59.7 bushels of corn fed over 171 days      animal health research and potential
Over the last few years, the Sparks          for calf finishing. Calves that grazed      to serve as a management tool in the
Center has served a large group of           wheat pasture had 132 lb heavier            beef cattle industry.
Department of Animal Science faculty         carcasses, but there was no difference          The Sparks Center continues to
including Drs. Gerald Horn, Don Gill,        in carcass quality with both groups         advance its research capabilities.
David Lalman, Chris Richards, Deb            achieving approximately 40% upper           Recently, specialized feed bunk and
VanOverbeke and Gretchen Hilton.             2/3 choice or better.                       water equipment was acquired that
College of Veterinary Medicine faculty           Particularly with the recent in-        combines with electronic individual
involved with research at the facility       creases in grain prices, this research      animal identification technologies to
includes Drs. D.L. Step, Bob Smith,          is valuable as it indicates Oklahoma        provide the ability to monitor indi-
Robert Fulton, and Anthony Confer.           wheat pastures can be used to reduce        vidual calf feed and water intake in a
     The primary goals of the Sparks         time in the feedlot and quantity of         group pen environment. This capabili-
Center are to improve production ef-         grain required while still maintaining      ty is just another step to maintain OSU
ficiency of cattle, have a positive affect   the production of high quality carcass-     as a premier location for receiving and
on beef quality and have a positive          es.                                         finishing cattle research and educa-
economical affect on all farmers and             With the recent heightened interest     tion.
ranchers. Research projects focus on
management, health and nutrition
along with cooperative arrangements                         Specialized Marketing of
with the allied cattle industry to par-
ticipate in product development and                         Ranches and Farms in the
evaluation experiments and educa-
tional activities.
                                                               Oklahoma Area...
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                                                                                                       Oklahoma Cowman                  33

								
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