A new cattle feeding facility at Southeast Missouri State University’s David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center was dedicated today, launching a collaborative effort with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Agriculture Foundation and the Missouri Beef Initiative Council to study the economic benefits of covered feeding.
Southeast’s research will compare beef production in the new 4,500 square-foot covered feeding facility to open feeding areas, and will focus on the cattle’s feed to gain ratio, behavior and welfare, and meat quality for consumer ratings, according to Dr. Julie Weathers, Southeast associate professor of agriculture.
“We are honored to dedicate the cattle feeding facility to promote the creation of new research and techniques to improve beef production across the state,” Weathers said.
Officials with Southeast, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Agriculture Foundation, and the Missouri Beef Initiative Council were on hand for the ceremony today. The dedication marks the completion last month of the $75,000 project funded with a Missouri Beef Initiative Grant.
Southeast now has one of several feeding facilities in Missouri contributing to the research and enhancement of the state’s beef cattle industry and production.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture launched the Beef Initiative to explore ways to grow and improve the herd in Missouri, help producers increase the value of the industry by keeping more cattle in-state for finishing, and better market Missouri beef for its high quality for both foreign and domestic consumption. Grants were made available to fund research projects that will enhance the Missouri cattle industry and allow Missouri to capture additional economic value.
With the state looking for effective ways to expand its cattle industry, Southeast provides the perfect location for this research because of the local area’s agricultural ties and to the nation’s cattle industry, Weathers said.
“Our herd exemplifies the quality and advantages of the southeast Missouri area,” she said. “Because of our proximity to the corn industry, our cattle consume and some of the biggest meat packing locations in our neighboring states. The research we collect will be an important factor and contribution for the state in deciding to build its own finishing plant.”
Currently, Missouri weaned calves are sent to Kansas for their final feeding and slaughter. Ranchers and the state lose income by shipping their herd. Southeast’s research will help determine if it is more economical for Missouri to build its own in-state facility, which could also generate new jobs and income, she said.
The facility will also provide educational opportunities for students to learn and evaluate agribusiness techniques and skills before graduating.
“The knowledge our students gain as a part of this project can prepare them for the economic decisions they’ll face as leaders in their local, regional or national industry,” Weathers said.
The University is scheduled to begin using the new feeding facility this semester.
For more information about Southeast’s Department of Agriculture, visit http://www.semo.edu/agriculture/.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Beef Initiative Grants, visit http://agriculture.mo.gov/abd/financial/beefinitiative.php.