The Missouri Department of Agriculture and Missouri Agriculture Foundation recently awarded a $75,000 Missouri Beef Initiative Grant to Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Agriculture.
Southeast will use the funding to build a 4,500-square-foot covered cattle feeding facility at the David M Barton Agriculture Research Center.
“This is a great way to involve more undergraduates in hands-on experiential learning and research opportunities, especially for those students interested in nutrition and cattle management,” said Dr. Julie Weathers, Southeast associate professor of agriculture.
The grant will also provide funding for research regarding the economic benefits of covered feeding. Southeast’s research will compare beef production in the new covered feeding facility to open feeding areas, Weathers said.
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.
“Being able to help show how the livestock industry can bring more jobs to Missouri and retain cattle ownership within the local area is a great asset to our University,” said Samantha Lowman, instructor in Southeast’s Department of Agriculture. The research they collect will be an important factor for the state in deciding to build its own finishing plant.
Despite Missouri being one of the top ranked states nationally for cow/calf inventory and production, the state lacks feedlot facilities, Weathers said. After Missouri calves are weaned they are sent to Kansas for their final feeding and slaughter. Ranchers and the state lose income by shipping their herd, she said
Not only would it be more economical for Missouri to build its own in-state facility, it also could generate new jobs and income, Lowman said.
The research will focus on the cattle’s feed to gain ratio, behavior and welfare, and meat quality for consumer ratings. The University is the perfect location for this research because of the local area’s agricultural ties and to the nation’s cattle industry, Weathers said.
“The southeast Missouri area would be a great place for a feedlot facility because we already grow and process the corn the cattle consume here, and some of the biggest meat packing locations are across the state border in Arkansas and Tennessee,” Weathers said.
The project is scheduled to be completed by December, with research to begin during the spring 2017 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.