by Travis Mulliniks, Range Cattle Nutritionist

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

The last year has tested many producers. With increased rainfall and in some areas, decreased forage quality, pregnancy rates in Nebraska have been all across the board. Gudmundsen was not immune to these challenges. Fortunately, a warm, open winter allowed for increased grazing and decreased the cold stress we experienced last winter. Jacki Musgrave and John Nollette will update you on the cattle operations in this newsletter.

Due to the extensive, diverse nature of beef production systems, finding answers for producers from research can sometimes be slow, inconclusive, and costly. This is partially due to studies being based on pasture averages rather than individual animal. As part of the goal for GSL to become the Ranch Innovation Center, we purchased our first Super SmartFeed feeding system. This portable feeder allows for individual animal supplementation. Supplement amount per animal can be programmed so that multiple supplement strategies can be utilized in one pasture. Technology like the Super SmartFeed system will help us examine how to fine-tune supplementation strategies and decrease input costs.

As part of a larger initiative across UNL, we collected DNA samples to genotype every GSL cow and calf. This will allow for genomic-based selection matching genotypes to desired phenotypic outcomes in various environments and management systems. In addition, this will provide GSL with EPDs on all the cows and subsequent offspring moving forward.

We have been working on increasing the lab capabilities at GSL to accommodate our increasing number of graduate students. This will allow students to be able to do more lab work while at GSL and not have to travel back and forth to campus as much.