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Ensminger Beef Center


Beef Center

Brent McCann
Beef Center Manager

Dr. Gordon Murdoch
Faculty Coordinator

PH: 509-335-2280
FAX: 509-335-1082

Contributions to Department missions

The mission of the beef program is to serve the beef industry and consumers in the state of Washington, the western region, and the nation, by providing solutions to new and existing problems through basic and applied research. The extension arm of the program transfers the knowledge gained to the industry and in turn communicates pressing beef industry research needs to the research scientists. The teaching arm of the beef program prepares future leaders in the beef industry by providing experiences to develop leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. A goal of the beef program is to train students who are highly sought after by employers upon graduation due to their beef cattle expertise. We accomplish this by providing student activities (e.g., Cougar Cattle Feeders, Block and Bridle Club, etc.), internships, externships, undergraduate research opportunities and jobs at the Beef Center.

Annual Animal Inventory

The herd consists of approximately 150 cows, 20-25 replacement heifers, and 1 Hereford clean-up bull. The cowherd is made up of 44 purebred registered Angus cows, 36 commercial Angus cows, 68 crossbred cows (primarily Angus-sired), 25 purebred and full-blood Wagyu. Over the past few years we have saved replacements to increase cowherd numbers to the 150 and our plan is to maintain this number. Our replacement rate has been approximately 14% with the majority of cows culled because they are open or for poor productivity. On average 20 cows are sold at the local livestock auction yard yearly. Additionally 4-8 club calves and 2-4 bred replacement heifers are annually sold at the Evergreen Angus sale. Approximately 10 bull calves per year of Wagyu breeding have been sold at auction as well. The 80 steer and heifer calves from the annual calf crop are sold to feedlot operations in the state.

Annual Production Levels and Targets

The Beef Center has as its goal to produce one calf per cow per year. We select bulls for birthweight so the cows can calve unassisted. Our average birth weight is 78 lbs and our adjusted weaning weights for 2008 were 595 lb. The average calving interval for 2007-2008 was 366d with very little variation observed. Our mature cows average 1400 lbs and our goal is to reduce this weight to 1250 to 1300 lbs with breeding and selective culling. Feedback from the feeders of our cattle is that they grade choice and are not overfat but rib eye area can be improved. Our goal is to select bulls to increase rib eye area without losing performance in other areas.

Feed and pasture resources are carefully managed to provide appropriate nutrition and minimize the need for stored forages and grains. To that end, a management intensive grazing system is in place at the Center and rotational grazing system is used on the river pastures. We also utilize wheat pastures that surround the barn after harvest. Over the past two years we have harvested about 65 acres of hay (yield is about 2T/acre) to effectively use the forage during rapid growing season and provide a small amount of the hay needed for the winter.

The Beef Center’s goal is to be financially self-sufficient with an adequate number of cattle to support teaching, research, and extension activities. The cow-calf unit aims to be integrative of the other centers in the department, productive and managed for mutual benefit of the entire animal sciences farm unit. The Beef Center is heavily integrated into our curriculum starting at the 100 level and continuing through upper division courses. The manager of the facility assists in the conduct of many labs and extension programs, gives tours to the general public, and facilitates research that is conducted both on and off campus.

Courses and activities that use livestock or facilities at the unit

AS 101-Introductory Animal Science AS 351-Physiology of Reproduction Lab
AS 174-Cow-Calf Management Laboratory. AS 360-Meat Science
AS 260-Live Animal and Carcass Evaluation AS 474-Beef Cattle Production
AS 313-Feeds and Feeding AS 454-AI and Preg Check
Crops 302-Forage Crops AS 700-Masters Research
AS 378-Adv. Livestock and Meat Selection AS 800-Dissertation Research
AS 399-Practicum AS 499-Independent study
Block and Bridle Club Pacific Northwest Judges School
Tours for 4-H Clubs, FFA and counties