by Travis Mulliniks, Range Cattle Nutritionist
Greetings from the faculty, cowboys, staff and students at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory.
I hope this newsletter finds you in good health and adjusting to our “new normal”. To say it has been an interesting year is an understatement. Since the last newsletter and with current challenges, we have been productive on several fronts.
We have had several new projects start this year. We have continued collecting DNA samples on every calf from GSL to be genotyped. The cowherd was collected last year. We now have EPDs on all cows and calves. In addition, all calves have been parentage tested. As we advance with genomic testing, we are excited to add depth to our capabilities at evaluating genetic relationships between important economic traits in range beef cattle. Hopefully, this will lead to the development of genetic markers for use as selection tools. The ranch update provides details on the new Ranch Practicum study. We are excited to share those results with you as we collect data. A question I get a lot is about milk production, where should they be, how to select against increasing milk, or management around it. To address these questions, this year we artificial inseminated 100 head of cows to a high milk EPD Red Angus bull to create a higher milking herd. We look forward to seeing what the long-term productivity of this herd from a complete production system standpoint will be compared to our moderate milk production cows. Coupling increased milk production, milk production data we already generate, and now having EPDs generated, we can start answering some of these questions. Jacki Musgrave and John Nollette will update you on the cattle operations in the Ranch Update.
Annual or intra-annual variation in weather conditions are always a test for livestock producers. The previous two years we have dealt with increased rainfall and harsh, wet winters. Conversely, this year we experienced a mild winter and dry conditions to this point. Jerry Volesky has an article later in the newsletter that will get you up to date on the forage and rainfall conditions at GSL through July. Due to our dry conditions and lower forage quality, we shipped yearling steers to the UNL feedlot in North Platte a month earlier than normal.
We all have been challenged to adapting to new ways to do things. Unfortunately, this year’s Ranch Practicum was postponed until next year. We look forward to getting it going again next year. Another change will be the 21st annual GSL Open House being held as an online webinar on August 26. More information is presented later in the newsletter and on our GSL website. We are excited about this year’s program. If you are not available to watch the live webinar, the recorded presentations will be available on the GSL website.
I hope you enjoy the August 2020 GSL Researcher. If we can do anything better to serve you, please let us know.