Producers donate cattle to college program

Olds College’s Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production will use the 10 Red Angus heifers for feed research

Old College has gone into the red — Red Angus, that is.

Last week 10 Red Angus heifers stepped off the truck and onto Olds College property and entered a research project on residual feed intake and feed efficiency at the college’s Technology Access Centre (TAC) for Livestock Production.

Ten Red Angus producers from Western Canada each provided one animal, an initiative of the Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society.

“With donations you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to receive so we were more than thrilled to see the calibre of the animals as they arrived off the trailer, just to see that these were some top quality animals that are going to be contributing to our establishment,” said TAC manager Sean Thompson.

“It’s unique for a start-from-scratch herd with that much genetic diversity anywhere in the industry so we’re going to take advantage of that.”

The heifers were donated by Circle G Angus, KC Stock Farm, Wraz Red Angus, Matejka Farms, Brylor Ranch, Shiloh Cattle Co., Fraser Farms, Triple S Red Angus, Diamond T Cattle Co. and Anderson Cattle Co.

The Red Angus Promotion Society comprises 275 Red Angus breeders from Western Canada.

Despite coming from 10 different operations, the 10 new heifers are well matched, said Thompson.

“They’re all fairly consistent animals in terms of phenotype but with that genetic diversity, that will really benefit what we’re hoping to do on the research side.

“By having 10 animals from 10 different operations from across Western Canada, that’s really as good as we could have achieved.”

Part of the agreement with the Red Angus group is that they will provide semen or a bull at breeding time to ensure continuation of top quality genetics.

Once performance benchmarks are established, the college will monitor the new herd’s progress and improvements, as well as those of its progeny.

The heifers’ DNA will be tested using the Angus association’s suite of analysis and Thompson said the college might do complete genetic mapping.

The college will use the donated heifers in a research project on residual feed intake and feed efficiency. | Olds College photo

“By gathering all that information up front and collecting performance information and phenotypic information throughout these animals lifetimes and on their progeny, all that information will be there to then dive into and interpret, whether it’s on the applied research side or through course work on the academic side.”

The cattle will be part of academic courses that could include evaluation of new technologies and management practices or education on genetic evaluations and how to use them, said Thompson.

Students might also be involved with the herd through extra-curricular activities involving shows or sales.

Olds College already has a commercial cattle herd of about 120 breeding females, with Angus, Simmental and Gelbvieh influence. It also has 130 breeding ewes so 10 additional heifers won’t present any challenge in terms of care and feeding and will add to current teaching and research projects.

“They’ll fit in nicely with our current management, with the intent of obviously growing this herd to a larger size to be determined in the future,” Thompson said.

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