Friday, June 20, 2014

Opportunities and challenges for a new approach to genomic prediction

Dorian Garrick
Henderson originally described breeding values (EPDs) as sums of gene effects. Meuwissen, Hayes, Goddard re-expressed this as sums of effects estimated for genotyped DNA variants.  
In current selection we have two models for genetic prediction, one for genotyped animals and a separate model for animals not genotyped.
You can combine a pedigree based relationship matrix with a genomic based relationship, we call this single-step BLUP or HBLUP (Aguilar et al., 2010).
There is a second approach which Garrick refers to as a hybrid approach. Now breeding values for nongenotyped animals are expressed as the part explained by genotyped relatives and the part not explained by genotyped relatives. This is similar to the animal model where we have the breeding value explained by relatives and the breeding value due to the random shuffle of genes across generations.
This model is in press and should be out later this summer (Fernando, Dekkers and Garrick 2014 GSE).

If everyone is genotyped, this hybrid approach reduces to the genomic selection models such as BayesA, BayesB, and BayesC. If no one is genotyped the model reduces to the traditional models used to calculate pedigree EPDs. Garrick also states that HBLUP is a special case of their hybrid model, but HBLUP has certain assumptions not needed in the hybrid model.

Garrick then transitioned to discussing improvements in computing. He showed that memory continues to improve according to Moore's Law. But, he showed that clock speed has stopped increasing since 2004 due the heat produced by fast processors. Super fast processors were producing as much heat as a rocket nozzle. But, we have have seen increased use of multiple core processors and graphical processors.

Garrick has been working to improve parallel computing of genetic . The data available on genotyped animals is not large enough to see speed ups of genomic predictions by use of parallel computing. But, single-step BLUP and hybrid models are a perfect size for speed up with parallel computing.

Breed Updates on Genomic Prediction

Several of the breed associations gave reports on their progress to implement genomic-enhanced EPDs. When a breed is small it is difficult to obtain genotypes of animals with reliable EPD estimates. More on this later.

The American Gelbvieh Association has implemented and released genomic-enhanced EPDs. See page 30 of the April 2014 Gelbvieh World for more information. Gelbvieh has implemented a solution unique to beef breeds in which a beef producer can either purchase a low density or high density SNP test. The SNPs not genotyped on the low density tests are implemented based on inheritance patterns in the populations. This process is referred to as imputation.

This September, the American Hereford Association will be adding a low-density SNP test that will be marketed at half the cost of the complete SNP test. The SNPs not genotyped on this assay will be imputed from the genotyped DNA variants, the same as the Gelbvieh strategy. When first introduced, AHA genomic predictions had a correlation of 0.33 with calving ease. Now, after training with 10,000 animals across multiple continents, the correlation is now up to 0.84. This means 70% of the variation in calving ease will be explained by the genomic predictions.

John Genho of Livestock Genetic Services reported on the development of genomic-enhanced EPDs for Santa Gertrudis. Because small breeds have a significant challenge in obtaining enough genotypes and phenotypes to implement a genomic prediction, Santa Gertrudis Breeders International has implemented a single-step genomic BLUP where a genomic relationship matrix is merged with a pedigree relationship matrix. Because SNP effects are not estimated, genomic-enhanced EPDs can be produced when many fewer animals are genotyped. Genho looked at ultrasound data from the King Ranch to evaluate the value of the genomic BLUP. Without genomics, correlation between pedigree EPDs and the actual ultrasound intramuscular fat measurements was 0.22. When genomics were added to the genetic estimate, the correlation between EPD prediction and ultrasound measurements increased to 0.34.

Things that Annoy Thallman About National Cattle Evaluation

Mark Thallman
Mark Thallman recently attended a bull sale with his farther-in-law to help him buy a bull. He was annoyed to find out the embryo transfer calves only had parent average EPDs. This annoyed Thallman because his masters thesis had been focused on calculating EPDs using data from embryo transfer calves.
Thallman also speculates that herds using within herd genetic evaluations are due to frustrations with the genetic evaluations published by breed associations.
Thallman also points out that we need better fertility EPDs. Stayability EPDs were a good first step, but we can do better. He suggests implementing fitting Days to Calving and Pregnant/Open as separate traits. He also envisions fitting each parity as separate pairs of traits in a 6-trait model. Thallman also sees a "build it and the data will come" strategy working best.
We have also failed to implement and use visual scores such as structural soundness, udder soundness, and sheath scores.
Should we score breeders on how biased their submitted data is? We could then regress their EPDs back to the breed average based on the quality of their data.
We also need better decision support software. Unfortunately, as funding for national cattle evaluation research dried up, the development of decision support software lost steam.






It is possible to genetically change the nutrient profile of beef

Raluca Mateescu
What do consumers want? First taste, second price, and a close third healthfulness. In the last 30 years obesity rates have increased, but beef consumption has decreased. Beef is not causing the rising obesity rates. Previously heart disease has been linked to saturated fat consumption but recent research has questioned this link. On average Americans are overweight and undernourished, in particular their diets are low in iron and B vitamins. Beef can help fix this lack in dietary nutrients!

Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder, and in aging adults we see an increased risk of sarcopenia (muscle loss likely due to iron and zinc deficiency). We can use genomic predictions to increase the amount of iron in the beef we produce. Increased iron also helps color stability and beef flavor. Genomic prediction of iron content is another example of novel traits that we can tackle with the help of genomic predictions.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Economically Relevant Traits for the 'New Beef Industry'

Bruce Golden
There has been incomplete investment in the strategy of economically relevant traits.

New computational and statistical advancements made genetic prediction possible. From 1975 to 1995 used sire models to predict
By 1989 approximately 20 breed associations were producing genetic estimates.
In 1995 there was whole herd rporting, international cattle evaluation, and online reporting and recording. In 2004 economic selection indexes were implemented.
From 1998 to 2008 breeds moved to in-house or service provider evaluations, rather than using the services of universities.
Golden states that he sees implementation of genomics as an incremental improvement in accuracy of prediction, but not how we "use" the traits.
Shows that genetic predictions have been produced for 75 different traits across many breeds.

There are two categories of traits:
  • Indicator traits: traits that are genetically correlated with traits that we really want to improve
  • Economically relevant traits: are the traits that directly affect profitability as they directly affect cost or revenue stream.
Due to the math, genetic predictions for economically relevant traits and indicator traits must both be produced simultaneously.
Using the EPD of an indicator trait decreases the accuracy of the selection decision.
Examples of indicator traits: scrotal circumference which is correlated with heifer puberty.
Examples of economically relevant traits: heifer pregnancy.
Weaning weight is an economically relevant trait dependent upon your marketing endpoint; if you sell calves at weaning then it is economically relevant, but if you sell at a different time point it is an indicator trait.

Birth weight is not an economically relevant trait. It is a great indicator and we need to continue to use it. Why are we still reporting it???
Guideline: Only publish EPD that are used in any type of partial budget decision analysis. Partial budget decision analysis is any analysis that predicts the finicial impact of incremental changes in revenue and cost.

Sire summaries have gotten better. Selection indexes are a move in the right direction, but they often include both ERT and indicator traits. They are also not environment specific and do not take nonlinear effects into account. Ultrasound EPDs have been removed from all sire summaries. But, birth weight EPDs still remain in all sire summaries.

EPDs are just parameters that should go into decision analysis tools.
Do we make decisions similar to pre-sabermetrics age of baseball?
Are we making decisions based on perceptions or data?

We need to educate commercial producers about what the proper traits to use.

My thoughts
It is time for breed associations to rip off the band-aid of reporting indicator trait EPDs. The most prominent example is the birth weight EPD. Which breed association is going to have the courage to change from historical practices? Which board of directors is going to push their breed to be proactive and use best practices? Breed associations cannot control which traits or records are in sale catalogs, but breed associations can control what is in a sire catalog or registration paper. Admittedly there will be an uncomfortable period, but I strongly believe this will be a great educational opportunity. We can educate seedstock and commercial producers about the best practices of genetic selection. We can help point beef producers toward a profit motivated selection system. Let's grab this educational opportunity by the horns.

Merging genetics and management for improved profitability

Moderator: Tom Field
Panelists: Donnell Brown, Lorna Marshall, and JD Radakovich 
These are some points that stood out to me in panel discussion. It is not organized, but more of a blitz of phrases and talking points. 
Commercial producers want to see improved genetic merit for fertility. Commercial producers are also concerned about feet, but what is the science behind feet evaluation?
Radakovich went through a sale catalog and picked out the bulls he wanted based on his ranch's selection criteria. He came home with zero bulls. Lead him to question what bulls did he need rather than the bulls he wanted. If my cow herd is not wrong, how much emphasis should be put on making them a small bit more right.
What is the longivity of the bull's daughters but also what is the longevity of the bull? Does that bull come back in healthy the 3rd and 4th years?
Mark Thallman pointed out that we not only need to cull the bottom end but we also need to apply selection pressure to move our herds and industry in the right direction more rapidly. By culling the bottom end are we going to get to the end point in 150 years? Perhaps we should put selection pressure on these traits.

Donnell Brown describing genetics providers and solution providers. Are we worried about "genetic purity" or are we worried about the profit of our customers. Instead of adding more and more feed, lets measure reproduction traits to enable genetic progress. Brown is concerned about continuing to measure traits to enable improvement of genomic tests.
Brown states properly that we need to provide solutions by selecting on economic selection indexes that balance all important traits.
Brown gets feedback from commercial producers that their weaning weights are not increasing. Some of this may be due to the limits of production environments. But, we also need to challenge our animals at the seedstock level to start to see more of the differences between animals. But, is the drop in weaning weights due to the lack of hybrid vigor and heterosis.
Lorna Marshall points out that they have seen increased demand for other breeds as producers see the need to improve heterosis.
Radakovich changed calving season which allowed him to drop his labor cost by 30%. But this also resulted in a 50 pound decrease in weaning weights.
Should selection indexes be customized to the individual ranch?
Brown: we need to continue to use indexes and put the important traits into them.
Marshall: Commercial producers are not accepting that indexes work across environments, such as Florida vs Wyoming. Commercial producers also want across-breed indexes.
Radakovich: we have all kinds of apps on our smart phones, can we create an app to help people use indexes that are specific to their situation?
[My question- who is paying to develop this app? Who is paying to develop the math and theory that go into across-breed environment specific indexes.]
Radakovich: Challenge to the industry- can I input simple data about my cow herd and get back information about
Marshall: Challenge- be in tune what the commercial industry needs. Provide them with solutions.
Brown: Challenge- Will current prices bring new players into the industry and how will that affect the industry? Will the industry become more coordinated? Need to select cattle that meet both cow-calf needs and production needs.

Economic considerations for profitable cow herds

Clay Mathis
King Ranch Institute for for Ranch Management
Good managers make a multitude of small decisions to keep costs low relative to the cattle they produce and market. But, excellent managers do the same and also find leverage in the production system. These excellent managers make strategic changes that have a systematic impact on their operation. From the SPA data, Mathis shows that the average operation loses money. But, the top quarter of operations make $169 while the bottom quarter of operations lose $308. These bottom quarter have out of control spending and low performance and income. Weaning percentage did not vary dramatically between the top and bottom operations.The top operations are weaning 60 more pounds on average, likely due to older calves from a controlled breeding system and better genetic merit for growth. Increasing weaning weight percentage by 1 percentage unit increases profit by $6 per cow. Labor, depreciation, and feed were the largest expenses in the SPA data. Mathis pointed out that operations should evaluate if they can operate with less labor.
To reduce equipment depreciation managers have to consider convenience and control. Practices to reduce equipment depreciation like sharing, leasing, or outsourcing equipment have trade offs in convenience and control. Implementing a managerial accounting system is essential to improving costs and income. Operating capital is essential as it avoids liquidating assets, such as cows. By removing cows from the herd, there are fewer cows to cover fixed costs. When accounting for the cost of buying back cows, in a 1,000 head cow herd you could spend $978 per head on extra feed to avoid reducing cow inventory.

Having financial data in hand from a managerial accounting system allows managers to make those strategic decisions that differentiate good and excellent managers.

Heifer intake and feed efficiency as indicators of cow intake and efficiency

Dan Shike
University of Illinois
One of the big questions in feed efficiency has been whether feed efficiency of heifers in the growing stage reflect feed efficiency of cows in the maintenance stage. There is a lot of buzz around efficiency because we are facing a growing world population, increased competition for resources, volatility of feed prices.
Why have we not seen improvement in feed efficiency? One reason is the traditional focus on outputs such as weaning weight, yearling weight and carcass weight. But, feed intake has been difficult to measure in the past.
When we think of feed efficiency in the feedlot, the framework is fairly straightforward, feedlots buy feed and sell beef. But, efficiency in the cow herd is more complicated as there are varying feeding strategies and marketing strategies. We can measure feed efficiency as residual feed intake (eating less than predicted based on body weight and growth is efficient) or as residual gain (gaining more than predicted based on body weight is efficient).

Historically, we have thought that in a restricted feed resource environment we should identify cows with moderate size and moderate milk production. But, not all moderate sized cows have low feed intake and not all large cows have high feed intake! We need to approach this from a more detailed perspective looking at actual feed intake and performance.

From the University of Illinois data, the females that had lower feed intake as a heifer also had lower intake as two-year old cows. Residual gain did not have impacts on cow performance, thus we can select for increase residual gain and not affect our cow herd. The correlation between heifer intake and cow intake was about 45%. Their data suggest very limited antagonistic relationships between feed intake and maternal traits.

In conclusion, Shike makes the important point that we should include feed intake in selection indexes. This would ensure that feed intake was selected in a systematic fashion balanced for the economic importance of feed intake and other production traits.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) Symposium: 50 Years of Service to the Beef Industry

BIF put together a well respected host of speakers to review the last 50 years of research at the US Meat Animal Research Center.

Larry Cundiff
The Germplasm Evaluation Program was initiated in 1969 after several planning meetings from 1967 to 1969. Because of the quarantine facilities in Canada, the Germplasm Evaluation Program worked very closely with Ag Canada to obtain semen on imported continental bulls. G.E. Dickerson designed the programs to address questions about breed differences and to maintain heterosis among breeds. Over 8 cycles of the program, 37 breeds have been evaluated. In a 7 year period the MARC had amassed a large cow herd as they were trying to evaluate cows from each breed late into their productive years. One of the first lessons was the problems of breeding imported bulls to 2 and 3 year old cows, as calving problems frequently occurred. No one breed was able to excel at all economically important traits in the early years of the Germplasm Evaluation Program. Logically, crossbred animals performed well for multiple traits. The program strove to group breeds into biological types. In the early 1980's the center began to estimate adjustment factors to put EPDs from multiple breeds all on the same scale. Due to the changes in breed averages, the biological types of many of the breeds have changed since the first Germplasm Evaluations. Cundiff believes that one of the great successes of the program was getting information to the cattlemen in a timely fashion. The Germplasm Evaluation Program and the leaders of breed organizations impacted which breeds where chosen for introduction into and became popular in the United States beef industry.

Mark Thallman
In 1998 scientists at MARC evaluated what the goals of the Germplasm Evaluation Program should be. The population is now used as the main source of samples for genomics research. The new approach of the program no longer seeks to evaluate exotic breeds that are not used within the industry, but instead focuses on breeds that are widely used within the current beef industry. The program has also added the focus of looking at genetic parameters (heritability) of new or important traits. In the current Germplasm Evaluation, 14 breeds are sampled and since 2006 the program has sampled 794 sires. They produce an average of 10 animals per each sampled bull. The design of the project creates purebreed animals, first generation crosses of two breeds, and second generation crosses of four breeds. They have maintained purebred herds of Angus, Hereford, Charolais, and Simmental for many years, and the program is working on building purebred herds for other breeds. The Germplasm Evaluation Program no longer uses cycles, but now uses a continuous program. The program has sequenced 180 purebred bulls and 81 crossbred bulls. Some of the recent research has shown that heterosis is maintained at a higher level than previously assumed. Composite bulls likely retain more heterosis effects than previously assumed.

Steven Kappes
The field of genomics stands on the population genetics work by Wright, Fisher, and Haldane, selection index work of Hazel and Lush, mixed model work of Henderson, application of BLUP to field data by Van Vleck, Willham, Quaas and Pollak, nucleic acid hereditary work of Avery, MacLeod, DNA structure by Watson and Crick, and PCR by Mullis. Various maps of the bovine genome have been created such as cytogenetic maps, physical maps (RH and FISH), and linkage maps. Researchers originally assumed that mapping production traits would be simple, all that would be needed is finer resolution maps. In 2003 we knew that single gene (marker) selection was worse than single trait selection. There are hundreds of genes which influence a trait, thus the infinitesimal model was a good approximation. These DNA markers needed to be incorporated into EPD predictions. The motto of the animal genomics community was "We need more markers, we need more animals." (These practices have currently been implemented in the industry, but this was not so in the late 1990's and early 2000's.) The first step in sequencing the bovine genome was creation of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library. This was done on L1 Domino 99375, as he was a line bred bull. His daughter, L1 Dominette 01449, was used to generated 60% of the sequence for the bovine reference genome. In the second phase of the sequencing project researchers sequenced 6 other breeds to identify single base pair markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Previously, researchers used 150 repeat markers, now there are 750,000 markers in a single assay. Researchers now used all available SNP markers simultaneously in a genomic selection prediction model. For milk protein predictions in dairy, the pedigree estimate provided the same amount of information as 7 progeny, and the SNP genotypes provide the same amount of information as 34 progeny. The gain in information is even stronger for lowly heritable traits, for pregnancy the SNP genotypes provide the same amount of information as 131 progeny.

Ronnie Green
The ground on which the MARC currently stands is considered excellent crop land. When the land was purchased by eminent domain to manufacture ammunition for World War II, many people assumed that the land would go back to the private domain after the war effort. But, after the Korean War, several people saw the possibility of the land as a research center, modeled after other military institutions that had been turned into research institutions. The history of MARC and the Beef Improvement Federation have been intrinsically intertwined.

Bill Rishel, Dave Nichols, Burke Teichert, and Chuck Folken
This panel of producers discussed the impact of the MARC research which included work on food security, heterosis, and genomics. Dave Nichols expressed his excitement about new genomic predictions. He stated that genomic tests were the most influential development in beef genetics since the publication of EPDs.

LiveAuctions.tv will broadcast 2014 Beef Improvement Federation Annual Meeting and Research Symposium

The 2014 Beef Improvement Federation Annual Meeting and Research Symposium begins this evening and runs through Friday evening, with a post-conference tour on Saturday. LiveAuctions.tv is providing a live video stream of the proceeding. This evening from 6 pm to 9 pm CDT will be a symposium to honor the achievements of the USDA research at the Meat Animal Research Center. A full schedule of presentations can be found here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

American International Charolais Association:
Pathway to Genomic-Enhanced EPDs

I talked about use of high-throughput DNA sequencing to improve fertility by removing DNA variants from a breed that cause embryonic losses during pregnancy. Here is a link (Managing Broken Genes in the Age of Genomics) to the PowerPoint presentation I gave. I discussed the development of a genomic EPD based on the number of embryonic lethal variants (broken genes) that an animal carries that causes losses of embryos during pregnancy.

DNA Sequencing Costs, Data from the NHGRI Genome Sequencing Program (GSP) http://www.genome.gov/sequencingcosts/
 The cost of DNA sequencing has rapidly dropped in the last 15 years. In 2001 it cost about $10,000 to sequence a million base pairs of DNA. In 2014 it costs under 10 cents to sequence a million base pairs. This rapid drop in the price of DNA sequencing has enabled researchers to tackle questions that we previously could not address. With this sequencing data we are identifying loss-of-function variants (broken genes) that lead to pregnacy losses based on the sequences of approximately 200 bulls.

Dorian Garrick discussed the development of genomic-enhanced EPDs for the American International Charolais Association. First, Garrick discussed in beef breeding we seek to move the cloud of performance data. He gave an example of the relationship between birth weight and weaning weight. Animals that have high weaning weights tend to have high birth weights and animals with low weaning weights tend to have low birth weights, but some animals have high weaning weights and low birth weights and vice versa. We can select parents from any portion of this cloud to move the breed average. We can select which parents to use by looking at the distribution of their offspring's performance. Typically we think good bulls produce good calves and bad bulls produce poor performing calves. But, a good bull with produce a range of offspring that range from really good to average to poor. The genetic merit (breeding value or EPD) of a bull is based on the average performance of his progeny. For bulls and females within a breed we have different amounts and reliability of performance information. We account for the differences in the amount of information on an animal using a statistical procedure called BLUP (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction). The EPDs predicted by BLUP predict the average genetic merit of that animals offspring. But, we can also think of EPDs as the sum of the effects of all of the gene variants that animal carries. You can think of this as the portfolio of the gene variant effects an animal carries. The goal of genomic prediction to genomically-enhanced EPDs (make them more reliable) is to test an animals DNA to sum up the effects of the genes it carries.

Garrick discussed retraining of the Hereford genomic predictions. By going from about 3,000 animals to 10,000 animals the amount of variation explained increased from about 30% to 45% on average for each trait.

Garrick also discussed that predictions do not work well across breeds when the target breed is not in the training data. This is due to different strings of variants inherited as a unit, called haplotypes, present in different breeds. When genomic predictions do function well across breeds it is because there are haplotypes of large effect that are shared across breeds.

Creation of a genomic-enhanced EPD for Charolais is currently underway at Iowa State by Dorian Garrick's group. There have been several issues with matching up the genotypes with the trait measurements, but these issues are being resolved. Once genomic prediction equations are estimated, GeneSeek will process genotypes and calculate genomic prediction for tested animals. Angus Genetics Inc. will then use these genomic predictions as a correlated trait to improve the reliability (accuracy) of the estimated EPDs. The boost in accuracy is highest for young animals with very little information.

Leaders within the Charolais breed continue to work for the best strategy to generate additional genotype and trait data moving forward.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bovine Respiratory Disease Symposium (BRDS) 2014: New Approaches to Bovine Respiratory Disease Prevention, Management and Diagnosis

The "Bovine Respiratory Disease Symposium (BRDS) 2014: New Approaches to Bovine Respiratory Disease Prevention, Management and Diagnosis" is to be held at the Renaissance Denver Hotel in Denver, Colorado, USA from July 30th to July 31st, 2014.

Registration is open and can be accessed, along with more information, at the Symposium website: http://www.brdsymposium.org

The early registration deadline is June 15, 2014.

The Symposium will include 2 days of presentations and discussions on a variety of topics relevant to BRDS. A research poster session will be held the first night. This meeting is being held in conjunction with the 2014 Summer Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC) meeting which will be held July 31st to August 2nd, 2014. We hope to see you there!

As we previously noted, the Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex Coordinated Agricultural Project is using a variety of genetic analyses to better understand BRD and to predict an animal's genetic merit for BRD resistance.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Mark Your Calendars For 2014 Field Days
Events are a chance to learn from researchers at your local research center

Story: Kyle Spradley | spradleyk@missouri.edu
Photos: Kyle Spradley
At last year's Field Day at Graves-Chapple Research Center in Rock Port, Tim Reinbott, superintendent of Bradford Research Center, speaks to the crowd about what do cover crops contribute to soil nutrient availability and fertility.
At last year's Field Day at Graves-Chapple Research Center in Rock Port, Tim Reinbott, superintendent of Bradford Research Center, speaks to the crowd about what do cover crops contribute to soil nutrient availability and fertility.
The main goal of any university is to educate, conduct research and improve the lives of others. Although the University of Missouri is commonly known for instruction at the campus in Columbia, the MU outreach goes beyond the classroom — it stretches to every corner of Missouri.
For more than a century MU Extension has provided workshops, assistance programs and connected to the people of the state.  The MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Agricultural Research Centers also provide an abundance of educational opportunities that many Missourians can find right in their own backyard.
“This is a great opportunity to get the latest information from CAFNR researchers and local Extension faculty,” said Marc Linit, associate director of the MU Agricultural Experiment Stations.

Brad Scharf, MU Post Doctoral Student, talks to the crowd about Thermal Aid. The new smart phone app from MU helps detect heat stress in livestock at the Wurdack Research Center Field Day last year.
Brad Scharf, MU Post Doctoral Student, talks to the crowd about Thermal Aid. The new smart phone app from MU helps detect heat stress in livestock at the Wurdack Research Center Field Day last year.

The Agricultural Research Centers across the state routinely host Field Days as a chance for the public to learn more about ways to improve the product they produce or enhance the quality of their land. For cattle ranchers and row-crop farmers to vineyard owners and walnut growers, there is plenty to gain from attending a Field Day and research and Extension faculty will address your agricultural challenges and questions.

For cattle ranchers, visit the Forage Systems Research Center in northern Missouri to see the latest on nitrogen management and forage production. Head to the Ozark hills at Wurdack Research Center outside of Rolla to understand the benefits of switching pastures from toxic fescue to novel endophyte varieties.
MU has long been known for its Variety Testing Program that helps farmers pick out the best seed. Each year, thousands of varieties of corn, soybean, wheat and cotton are tested at several centers and dozens of additional plots with the results published annually. To get a hands-on look of the varieties stop by Graves-Chapple Research Center in Rock Port,Hundley-Whaley Research Center in Albany or Greenley Research Center near Kirksville.
Missouri’s impact on the wine industry has seen a tenacious resurgence in the last decade and MU researchers are there to help. With the help of the MU Wine and Grape Institute and vineyards at Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon,Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center near Boonville and South Farm Research Center in Columbia, grape growers are provided with a wealth of the latest information and research.
Cotton and rice are sometimes forgotten Show-Me State crops. But at the Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, research has been going on with these crops in the state’s southeastern Bootheel region for decades.
Back on the calendar this year is the Southwest Research Center Field Day on September 12. The center is known for its cattle research, walnut production studies, vineyard and even elderberry trials that will be shared at the Field Day.
New to this year’s lineup of Field Days will be Agriculture Tech Fair at Bradford Research Center in Columbia on July 17. The full-day event will feature the latest in agriculture technology and what the future has for the modern-day farm.
For more information about CAFNR’s Agricultural Research Centers, visit http://bit.ly/CAFNRcenters.
For high-resolution press-quality photos of previous Field Days, visit http://bit.ly/fieldays. To download images of CAFNR’s Agricultural Research Centers, visit http://bit.ly/arcenters.
June
19Bradford Research Center Quail & Native Pollinator Field DayColumbia
July
17Bradford Research Center Agriculture Technology FairColumbia
22South Farm Research Center Turfgrass and Ornamental Field DayColumbia
29-30Bradford Research Center Crop Injury ClinicColumbia
August
1Bradford Research Center Organic Field DayColumbia
5Greenley Research Center Field DayNovelty
14Bradford Research Center Soil Health ExpoColumbia
26Graves-Chapple Research Center Field DayRock Port
27Hundley-Whaley Research Center Field DayAlbany
September
2Fisher Delta Research Center Field DayPortageville
4Bradford Research Center Tomato FestivalColumbia
12Southwest Research Center Field DayMt. Vernon
16Thompson Research Center Field DaySpickard
23Forage Systems Research Center Field DayLinneus
27South Farm Research Center ShowcaseColumbia
October
3Wurdack Research Center Field DayCook Station

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dent County Spring Beef Meeting

Tomorrow evening Dent County Cattlemen’s Association and University of Missouri Extension will sponsor the Dent County Spring Beef Meeting. The meeting will include a presentation by Gregg Barrows about the USDA Drought Assistance Program, which is designed to provide financial assistance to livestock producers who suffered losses during the drought of 2012.

I will be discussing the how using selection indexes and a consistent approach can increase your herd's profits.

The meeting will be held at Bank of Salem Courtesy Room, 100 W. 4th Street, Salem, MO and the program will begin at 7:00 pm.

For more information, please contact Ted Cunningham, MU Extension Livestock Specialist at 573-729-3196 or cunninghamtc@missouri.edu