MSU Beef Unit
The Leveck Animal Research Center is located adjacent to the campus of Mississippi State University. Currently there are 1057 acres being used to conduct intensive beef cattle, horse, catfish, and poultry production research, aid in teaching production animal agriculture and assist Extension specialists in educational programs for livestock producers.
Two beef cattle seedstock herds—Angus and Hereford—and a crossbred herd are maintained for research and teaching purposes. The fall calving purebred herd consists of Angus and Hereford cows calving in September and October. The spring calving commercial herd consists of commercial crossbred females with Angus, Simmental, and Brahman influence, calving in February and March. Bulls, heifers, and stocker cattle are sold to the public annually. The proceeds from the animals sold go towards supporting livestock research programs in Mississippi.
Research on the herd includes hair shedding and adaptability studies to evaluate genetic differences and impacts on performance. Research is also currently being conducted on stocker cattle receiving systems investigating effects of nutrition and management strategies on health and performance. Research in reproduction focuses on making artificial insemination more effective, and on how conditions in early gestation affect the health and future performance of calves. Cattle nutrition research focuses on forage utilization of summer perennials and winter annuals and perennials including supplementation strategies.The forage research unit evaluates new and improved forages and pastures crops species and rates their potential use in Mississippi. The primary emphasis is placed on finding ways to integrate various combinations of hay and grazing crops into practical production systems.
For the first 15 years of their marriage, Ted and Janet Parker lived off one income. She made the living, and nearly every penny he made as a beef cattle farmer went right back into growing their farm.
Mississippi State University experts see a positive outlook for the state’s beef cattle industry, with prices at profitable levels and herd numbers up.
Agricultural clients met with Mississippi State University personnel to discuss research and education needs during the annual Producer Advisory Council Meeting for the southwest region February 20.
Producers of grass-fed beef cattle will learn the latest recommendations for producing high quality and profitable livestock.
The first shipment of U.S. beef to China in more than 13 years reached its destination in June, and Mississippi cattle producers are beginning to see modest rewards of new market access.
Current cattle prices in Mississippi are up from a year ago. Lightweight cattle are $1.67 per pound, while heavyweight feeder cattle are around $1.35 per pound. A year ago, lightweight cattle were $1.55 per pound, and heavyweight cattle were in the range of $1.17 per pound.
“The cattle market has exhibited strong demand through most of 2017 despite the increased supply of cattle in the U.S.,” said Josh Maples, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Prices have generally decreased over the past month, which is due to a combination of seasonal factors and the increased supply.”
On his Rolling Fork farm, Bill Rutherford is living the life he dreamed of as a child. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)
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Greg Chambers is one Mississippi producer who’s focused on innovating. Whether he’s growing soybeans and wheat on his Prentiss County property or raising cattle and goats on other acres, Chambers is always looking for a better, more efficient way of doing things.
The people who know Virgil Walker look up to him. The Covington County native is a leader for his church and several local organizations. He loves his wife, his children, and his grandchildren, and he values his way of life.
“It’s just in my blood to walk out and see a cow on my farm,” he says on a humid, late-summer afternoon. “It’s five generations, counting my son’s kids. The one who’s 9 or 10, I gave her a calf, and she wants to come every day to look at it. I believe she’ll be the one to come and live on the farm. It would be rewarding for me. Where I’m living, I’ve been here for 50 years.”