Farm Focus

In this article, we highlight the Beef Cattle, Poultry, and Horse Teaching and Research Centers. You may be surprised at the number of activities these farms support.

Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center

Beef Cattle Teaching and Research Center

Teaching: The calving season (Feb-Mar) is always one of our favorite times of year at the Center. More than one-hundred thirty students participated in calf watch in 2017. Students in the Introductory Beef Cattle Management and Applied Animal Behavior courses spend a minimum of four hours with the cow herd throughout the night, watching for labor, assisting calving when necessary, and processing newborns. Other students you may find at the farm include those in Introductory Animal Science, Advanced Feedlot Management, Forage Crops, Reproductive Technologies, Animal and Product Evaluation, and Food Animal Production Medicine. Students in the Livestock Industries program, within the Institute of Agricultural Technologies, also spend many hours with us as they complete feedlot and/or cow/calf clerkships. These Ag Tech students frequently assist us with our morning health checks and feeding.

Research: We facilitate a number of research projects at the Center, that include topics from reproduction to carcass quality, and everything in between. Some of the current projects being conducted at the Center include:

  • Evaluation of natural breeding as a source of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) transmission
  • Impact of follicle count and follicle stimulating hormone on assisted reproductive techniques
  • Embryotropic actions of the follistatin protein
  • Chute-side blood testing to reduce antimicrobial treatments of feedlot cattle
  • Evaluation of a silage amendment on fermentation and nutrient retention

Extension  We also love showing people around and telling them about our research projects. We also like sharing our beef production story. In 2017, we spent time with groups from Sysco Detroit/Certified Angus Beef, and were a host to Grandparents University, Michigan Simmental Association Field Day, Michigan Beef Industry Commission Bloggers Meeting, and Michigan Cattlemen’s Summer Round-Up.

Beef cattle event

To read about the Center, how to visit, or how to help out, go to the Beef Teaching and Research Center page.

Poultry Teaching and Research Center

The MSU Poultry Teaching and Research Center has had a very busy summer and fall with multiple research projects, classes and fundraisers.

Chicken Egg Injection 015

Below is a list of research projects that were either completed this summer or are ongoing.

  • Impacts of extended pullet housing on production, behavior and welfare: can laying hens adapt to aviaries if they have already begun to lay in a pullet housing facility?
  • Evaluation of probiotic sugar beet ferment on chick growth and performance.
  • Development of Toxicity Reference Values (TRVs) for Birds Exposed to PFOS, PFOA and Associated Mixtures of Fluorinated Compounds (DOD/VA).
  • Efficacy and tolerance of Bioxylanase TT as assessed by turkey poult performance, blood chemistry and hematology and histology following supplementation over 6 weeks.
  • Influence of thermal challenge on turkey muscle development and meat quality.

As far as classes at the farm, the ANS 313 class raised their annual batch of broiler (meat type) chickens. The class raises broilers each fall as a way to learn how to formulate diets. Each group of 5 or 6 students decide how they want to raise their broilers (fastest growing, least cost feed, etc.) and then learn to formulate and balance rations to achieve this goal.

In addition the Avian Science club again raised turkeys at the farm for their annual fall fundraiser. The funds generated by this fundraiser helps students pay for their travel to the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). IPPE is the world's largest annual poultry, feed, and meat technology exposition. At the expo students have the opportunity to interview for internships and/or permanent positions.

Turkeys and students

Read more about the Poultry Teaching and Research Center on the ANS website Farms & Facilities pages.

Horse Teaching and Research Center

2017 began with the graduation of 14 enthusiastic Spartans from the MSU IAT Horse Management Program in March, and April saw our most successful sale in many years, with 12 high quality, horses prepared by those graduates grossing $71,500!  

sale and eljay

In the summer, and with the generous support of the Friends of the MSU HTRC, three MSU bred Arabians brought home 4 Regional Championships and 3 Reserve Champions as well as 7 top-five Championships. Under the guidance of Farm Manager Paula Hitzler, Animal Science majors Paige Bittner, Lily Fingas, and Marissa Henry showed our horses to these impressive results. MSU-bred horses also dominated the 2017 Arabian Sport Horse Nationals with the most National Championships won. In addition, MSU Sole Heiress was the dam of the Supreme National Champion and the dam of the most winners of National Champions.

In our ongoing efforts to generate income for the MSU HTRC, MSU began offering public riding lessons in the fall of 2017. Taught by IAT Horse Management and MSU Animal Science alumni Paige Bittner, classes filled quickly and the Spring 2018 sessions are filling as well. Likewise, we again offered the popular Hoof Science short course, taught by IAT Horse Management alumni and Farrier Dave Hallock.

We are expecting 13 foals this spring, and are especially excited about the arrivals of offspring by PA Marco (below), who joined us for the 2017 breeding season, thanks to the generosity of owner Connie O’Brien. This talented individual is a National Champion Western Pleasure horse and 2-time Reserve National Champion Reining horse, suggesting that his foals should be both athletic and beautiful. 

PA Marco

We hope that you will visit and see what our students and horses are achieving in 2018! Our annual Spartan Spectacular sale will be held April 29th, 2018 or check us out at or the Friends of the MSU HTRC Facebook page.

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