Travis Mulliniks 


by Travis Mulliniks, Range Cattle Nutritionist

Greetings from the faculty, cowboys, staff, and students at and associated with Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory.

Welcome to the first edition of our GSL newsletter. Our goal with the newsletter is to be a bi-annual publication to give updates on activities, ongoing and completed research, publications, forage forecasting, and awards coming from GSL. We will also have a technical note section to describe a science-based procedure utilized in projects, why it is important from a scientific-basis and why it is important for you as our stakeholders.

In the beef research side, we have quite a few projects ending this year and new projects starting. We are wrapping up the 2nd year of a 3-year study looking at energetics of young range cows during the breeding season. Our goal with this project is that it reveals mechanisms and drivers of metabolic flexibility in young beef cows that are more reproductively efficient. We also began a young cow supplementation project looking at strategies to increase reproductive efficiency. The calf crop this year in our March calving herd will be the last crop in a 3-year late-gestation supplementation project looking at the impact of rumen-protected methionine supplementation on cow and progeny performance. Methionine has been suggested to be a limited amino acid for cows grazing forage-based diets. Previous research has shown rumen-protected methionine can increase protein utilization in low-quality forage diets.

In rangeland research, Mitch Stephenson’s lab has conducted year 3 of a study evaluating the effect of early-season burning on hay production and quality on Sandhills meadows. The objective of this study was to better understand the trade-offs of early-season burning and grazing on later-season hay production. They also began year 1 of a study evaluating how timing and intensity of grazing on meadow hay regrowth during the fall and winter influences subsequent year hay production. In addition, they are collecting long-term plant production data at GSL. This data has been collected since 2004 and with 15 years of data of which they have begun modeling how weather variables influence production of different functional groups. This information will assist in better understanding vegetation dynamics and potential trigger dates for drought management decisions.

We look forward to your thoughts and suggestions on what should be included in upcoming editions of the newsletter.