Spring 2021 GSL Researcher

Travis Mulliniks  

Travis Mulliniks, Range Beef Cattle Nutritionist

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

This last year was pretty dry for many producers across the state. For the most part, Gudmundsen had a mild and pretty open winter. The cold spell hit us a few weeks prior to the start of calving, and the ranch crew did a tremendous job of managing windmill challenges and making sure feed was in front of the herd. Jacki Musgrave and John Nollette have an article later in the newsletter that will get you up to date on the cattle operations.

Currently, the drought outlook for much of the Sandhills and western Nebraska is expected to be dry or in some level of drought this year. The recent moisture from rain and snow has made us a little more optimistic on range conditions moving into the forage growing season. While we may like to be optimistic about spring moisture, now is the time we make our grazing and contingency plans keeping potential drought in mind.

In the next few years, GSL will be utilizing and testing more and more new technologies designed for cow-calf production. Some of the current options we are exploring are virtual fences, partial body weight weighing systems, camera systems for body weight/body condition score predictions, electronic pasture-based feeding systems, drones, and integrated numerous technologies in one dashboard. We are excited about what some of these technologies may bring to sustainability and profitability of rangeland beef production. Although we will be testing and utilizing more technologies at GSL, our focus will still be answering questions and challenges rangeland producers are faced in their production systems. A systems approach to research will always be the priority. Due to the extensive, diverse nature of rangeland beef production, some of these technologies will help us from a research perspective to provide better and more timely answers, and answers to questions that we were historically challenged to attain or answer. Some of these new technologies have allowed us to increase our collaborative effects with colleagues in Lincoln and other universities. We have new projects starting this summer with Drs. Yijie Xiong (Department of Animal Science) and Yeyin Shi (Department of Biological Systems Engineer) with remote sensors (cameras and drones). We are looking forward to what these new collaborations and projects will provide to livestock producers in Nebraska.

Early in April, we were honored to host U. S. Congressman Don Bacon at GSL for a tour. We appreciated his desire and willingness to visit with faculty about research and extension and meet with and answer questions from stakeholders in the area.

We are excited to have the Ranch Practicum going again this year. Troy Walz has done a great job with advertising this year. Later in the newsletter is an article on registering. If you or anyone you know is interested, please send them Troy’s way.

Just a reminder the GSL Open House will be held Wednesday, August 25th. More information will be coming out this summer.

Travis Mulliniks