University of Wyoming Extension News

Beef research nets top award in UW college of agriculture research magazine

Cattle fed with the GrowSafe system at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle.

Research to determine if Wyoming cattle producers could change weaning dates and feed less corn yet maintain carcass quality was voted the top story in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources research magazine Reflections at the University of Wyoming.

Scientists in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and Department of Animal Science report their results in the 2012 edition, available this summer.

Research in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and Department of Animal Science identifying appetite-regulating hormones in breast milk and thus the effect of breast-feeding on obesity prevention received the second-place award.

   An anonymous group of faculty members reviews articles and awards first and second places. The magazine is published by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (AES). The office awards $1,000 for the top story and $750 for second.

“The theme “Wyoming is our laboratory” for this issue couldn’t be more suitable,” said Bret Hess, associate dean for research and AES director. “This issue reflects how investigators in our college use Wyoming as our laboratory to address problems that are not only pertinent to the state but to the region and nation as well. I believe readers will enjoy seeing how the college embraces Wyoming as our laboratory.”

Agricultural economics associate professor Chris Bastian and assistant professor John Ritten, and animal science associate professor Steve Paisley and assistant professor Scott Lake suggest profitable alternatives that reduce dependency on high-priced corn while maintaining high-quality beef products for consumers.

Their research studied four options:

1. Early weaning and grazing on cornstalks followed by a short feeding program;

2. Early weaning with regular or traditional feeding;

3. October weaning, then grazing cornstalks before a short feeding program; and

4. October weaning followed by a traditional feeding program.

Results indicate normal weaning in October is most profitable for cow-calf producers who want to sell calves at weaning. The research suggests producers who want to retain ownership of steers should wean in October and use the cornstalk alternative and short feeding program. The early weaning, cornstalk short-fed option is most profitable for feeders.

In addition to identifying three appetite-regulating hormones in human milk, family and consumer sciences professor Enette Larson-Meyer, graduate research assistant Jessica Schueler, and animal science assistant professor Brenda Alexander were also interested in whether the hormones change across a single feeding.

Milk samples from 15 first-time mothers at four weeks postpartum were collected and the composition of foremilk (milk produced when a mother starts to nurse) and hindmilk (milk at end of feeding) analyzed. Mothers were asked to return at six-months and one-year postpartum to provide additional samples. The change in the fat composition of the milk is thought to serve as a signal that the baby is full.

The changes in milk fat and appetite-suppressing hormones may act to regulate energy consumption during nursing and “may be particularly important as the infant develops his/her own appetite-regulating circuits,” researchers stated.

Other research topics are:

·         Using cattle to speed reclamation of sites disturbed by energy extraction

·         Using remotely sensed images to study Wyoming resources

·         A Uinta County 4-H program that puts at-risk youth in charge of animal care

·         Developing the Eat Wyoming database and information service for Wyoming consumers

·         Identifying high-performing rams to reduce producer costs

·         Whether or not conventional, reduced-input or organic production practices with livestock is more efficient

·         Using K-Line irrigation systems to reduce irrigation costs and increase yields

·         Forage and grain yield potential of wheat, rye and triticale

·         Whether or not lupins can become a cash crop on the central High Plains

            Reflections will be available at UW research and extension centers at Powell, Sheridan and Laramie, the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle, and at UW Extension offices. Copies can also be obtained via mail by calling the AES office at (307) 766-3667 or at

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