Cultivating a Cattle Culture

Thompson Research Center Field Day focused on beef cattle

Attendees of the Thompson Research Center Field Day were able to learn more about several topics related to beef cattle during the event on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The event featured numerous University of Missouri faculty, experts, specialists and students who shared information on research and projects taking place at Thompson.

The Field Day featured a wagon ride before presentations began, where attendees could see timber projects and cow/calf pairs. Dusty Walter, director of natural resource management for the MU Agricultural Experiment Station, discussed timber stand management during a stop on the wagon ride. A free dinner was served to attendees between presentations as well. The dinner featured prime beef from Thompson.

“Our Field Day really is just a big family get-together,” said Farm Manager Jon Schreffler. “We’re thankful to have the faculty, experts and students who travel from Columbia and do research at the Center. The Field Day is a great opportunity to share that information with local farmers and producers.”

Christopher Daubert, MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Vice Chancellor and Dean, welcomed guests to the Field Day. Scott Brown and Harly Durbin followed with presentations before dinner. Brown, an associate Extension professor in agricultural and applied economics, discussed the economic impact of technologies used at the Thompson Research Center, based on many years’ economic and production records collected at the Center and funded through Mizzou’s National Center for Applied Reproduction and Genomics (NCARG). Combining genomic selection with reproductive technologies have resulted in more than 50 percent of Thompson steers grading prime. Durbin, a PhD student in the Genetics Area Program, described the potential advantage of region-specific expected progeny differences (EPDs), allowing producers to identify bulls that produce offspring tailored to their specific environments.

“Scott always offers important economic information for our attendees, and it was great to hear him talk about the economics of what we’re doing here at the Center,” Schreffler said. “Harly has been a speaker at the Field Day during the past couple of years, and her research is a continuation of Jared Decker’s (associate professor, Division of Animal Sciences) work.”

Jordan Thomas, assistant Extension professor in the Division of Animal Sciences; Rachael Bonacker, graduate research assistant; and Jaclyn Ketchum, graduate student; were the first speakers after dinner. The trio discussed a few different topics related to sex-sorted semen for timed artificial insemination (AI) of beef cattle. Optimal use of this technology resulted in a 60 percent conception rate with sex-sorted semen, and, overall, 75 percent of calves being of the desired sex. Eric Bailey and Kevin Meng followed with discussions on fescue pastures. Meng, a graduate student, presented on prescribed fire for seed-head suppression in tall fescue pastures. Bailey, an assistant professor in the Division of Animal Sciences, talked about nitrogen fertilizer and chemical seed-head suppression in tall fescue pastures.

David Patterson, a Chancellor’s Professor of Animal Sciences, and Jenna Monnig, an Extension field specialist in livestock, closed the Field Day with an update about the Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program.

“Jordan, Eric and Dave have been regulars at our Field Day for years,” Schreffler said. “Our attendees know that they will bring valuable and timely information every year. It’s also great to hear from the students, who are each playing an important role in the research and projects that happen in the Division of Animal Sciences.”

For a closer look at the Thompson Research Center Field Day, visit: