SDSU showcases cow-calf facility | TSLN.com

SDSU showcases cow-calf facility

It was standing room only in the barn at the new South Dakota State University Cow-Calf Education and Research Facility dedication ceremony and grand opening event Sept. 16. The event included a social, facility tour, dedication, chuck wagon barbecue and live entertainment from folk singer Jami Lynn. The event coincided with SDSU's annual Beef Bowl on Sept. 17.

The $6 million facility, which is located 2.5 miles northwest of SDSU's campus in Brookings, S.D., recently opened its doors and features an 80-seat classroom, laboratory, office and indoor handling facilities including a double-alley system, silencer chute and Bud Box. Within the multi-use barn is a center concrete drive with portable pens on each side. The building will be used for calving and preparation for Little International. Display pens run adjacent to the building and will be used for the university's annual bull sale and livestock judging events.

"The new cow-calf unit was a vision of SDSU President Barry Dunn," said Joe Cassady, SDSU Animal Science department head. "It's been more than five years in the making, and planning really took off after the fire that occurred in our old facility. The facility is close to campus, which allows for easier access to our students. The unit provides great opportunities for students to work part-time, assist with ongoing research and gain valuable experience."

Local ranchers, industry partners, students, faculty and beef industry stakeholders had the opportunity to tour the facility during the recent grand opening event. In addition to the main building, the unit features a separate monoslope barn with 12 pens and built-in Insentec feeders and waterers, which allow for collection of individual feed and water intake data.

"The 265-ft. feeding barn has four pens with 12 electric feed bunks that can monitor and record individual feed intake of each animal," Cassady said. "With the 12 bunks, we can offer two, three, four or more different diets to compare in our research. The waterers also allow us to monitor intake, and we can conduct research on high sulphates or impacts of vitamins or antibiotics in the water."

The unit also has a commodity shed, bunker silos, a bag pad for silage or wet distillers and mixing facilities. Outside runs flow to the center of the pen for manure management purposes.

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"We have an alley between the cattle runs that are used as a biosecurity measure," Cassady said. "This not only helps the flow of manure, but it also limits nose-to-nose contact between the bulls we have for our sale and the calves we have purchased from outside sources. This protects our resident herd from calves we introduce for feeding purposes."

More than 600 SDSU undergraduate students will benefit from this new state-of-the-art facility. Animal Science students will have the opportunity to learn through hands-on training in the areas of nutrition, management, breeding, genetics, reproduction, cattle evaluation, seedstock marketing and low stress handling techniques.

"I cannot express the importance this building is to the current and future students here at SDSU," said Christy Mogck, a senior animal science major at SDSU from Olivet, S.D. "We now have the ability to have classes out here and learn low stress handling practices in a safe environment. SDSU now has one of the most high-tech feeding systems and top working facilities in the world. With this new technology the possibilities are endless for new research to be done here. On behalf of the student body at SDSU, I would like to express our sincere thank you to the businesses and individuals who have put so much time and energy into making this awesome facility possible."

"We are really excited about the facility and the opportunities for education and research," Cassady added. "The unit sits on 320 acres of land, and we've seeded down some of the pastures with wildlife habitat in mind. Other areas have been planted with pollinators as the primary interest. We've also planted 12 ten-acre paddocks with a variety of grasses — six paddocks with warm season grasses and six paddocks with cool season grasses. We also have under construction a series of dry lots set up to use during calving. There are a lot of features to this facility that will work well in a research and educational setting.

Industry stakeholders also will be able to utilize the facility for producer events.

"Our highest level corporate sponsors — having donated $200,000 each — include CHS, Zoetis and First Dakota National Bank," Cassady said. "Recently CHS and Elanco held a feedlot short course here, and Zoetis plans to use the classroom at a producer event to discuss genomics and the results of genotype testing they conducted on our 2016 born calves. In addition to research and formal education, this facility was designed to a resource to our allied industry partners, beef producer stakeholders, and 4-H and FFA members."

CHS, Zoetis and First Dakota National Bank each sit on an advisory committee panel. In addition, the ranches who donated more than $50,000 to the facility also will sit on the committee.

"Because of the investments made by so many, this facility is a pivotal part of our collective strategy as a university to have an impact on the agricultural economy of the state for many decades," said Daniel Scholl, SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences interim dean. "Our desire is to always be the go-to location for beef cattle education and scientific research." 

More than 40 individual farms and ranches donated between $10,000-$24,000. Additional, auctions held at DakotaFest the last five years featured items donated by local ag families and money raised through SDSU's "Send A Cow To College" program helped to make this new facility a reality.

"Many, many, many of you reached into your pockets to provide key financial support, many of you gave political support, and many of you gave a nudge to a decision maker at the right time to turn this place into a reality — I recognize it all, and I'm grateful for it," said President Dunn, to the packed house at the dedication ceremony. "The leadership on this campus has been absolutely tremendous and extremely supportive in getting this facility built."

To watch a video tour of the new facility, check out the Facebook page — Animal Science Department – South Dakota State University or http://www.sdstate.edu/agriculture-biological-sciences/animal-science/cow-and-calf-research-and-teaching-unit. F

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