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Beef Reproduction Task Force

Beef Reproduction Task Force

K_State University Research and Extension


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John Arthington, University of Florida

Topic: Mystery and magic of mineral programs

John Arthington is a graduate of the animal sciences departments of Purdue (bachelor's degree) and Kansas State universities (master's degree and doctorate) and has been a member of the University of Florida animal sciences faculty since 1998. Currently, he serves as professor and director of the University of Florida Range Cattle Research and Education Center (RCREC) in Ona, which has faculty programs focused on the productivity and environmental sustainability of range and grazing lands. As director, John is responsible for the administration of the faculty programs and academic resources of the 3,000-acre facility. The RCREC supports seven on-site faculty programs with emphasis in beef and forage management, pasture weed control, soil and water science, wildlife ecology and economics.

In addition to his responsibilities as director of the center, John holds the rank of professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. His research program focuses on the management and nutrition of grazing beef cattle with a specific focus on mineral nutrition. John has served as president of the American Society of Animal Science’s Southern Section and as an associate editor for the Journal of Animal Science and the editorial board of the Professional Animal Scientist Journal. John is a member of the American Society of Animal Science, American Dairy Science Association, American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Reinaldo Cooke

Reinaldo Cooke, Oregon State University

Topic: Impact of nutrition, behavior and other stressors on embryonic loss and fertility

Reinaldo Cooke grew up in a small town surrounded by large citrus, sugarcane and cow-calf operations in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. He received a bachelor's degree in animal sciences from the São Paulo State University in December 2003 and moved to the United States in the fall of 2004 to attend graduate school. Reinaldo received his master's (May 2006) and doctoral (December 2008) degrees in animal sciences from the University of Florida. In January 2009, he joined Oregon State University.

Cooke is currently an associate professor stationed at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, Ore. He is the statewide beef cattle specialist and leads an integrated research and extension program with the goal of providing feasible management alternatives to promote and enhance beef cattle production in Oregon and throughout the United States.

Barb Downey

Barb Downey, Downey Ranch Inc.

Topic: How we make reproductive technologies pay — a commercial cattleman's perspective

Barb Downey and her husband Joe Carpenter own and operate Downey Ranch Inc. (DRI) in the Flint Hills of northeast Kansas. DRI is a commercial and registered Angus herd of about 550 cows. Calves are marketed as seedstock (bulls and bred replacement females) or finished beef through U.S. Premium Beef (USPB). DRI has used AI extensively in both the commercial and registered herds for many years. Their focus has been on fertility and functionality first, with attention paid to optimizing performance and carcass characteristics. Cows graze year-round on native range, tame pastures, stockpiled forages and residues.

Joe and Barb have two daughters. Anna is a sophomore at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Laura is a senior at Wamego High School. They are assisted on the operation by herdsman Spencer Jones and part-time employees as needed.

Barb earned her bachelor's and master's degrees through Kansas State University.

Barb Downey

Galen Fink, Fink Beef Genetics

Topic: How we make reproductive technologies pay — a seedstock producer's perspective

Rick Funston, University of Nebraska

Topic: General management considerations to improve the success of AI

Rick Funston is a professor and reproductive physiologist at the University of Nebraska. He received his bachelor's degree from North Dakota State University, his master's degree from Montana State University, his doctrate from the University of Wyoming, and a post doc at Colorado State University in reproduction/biotechnology. He divides his time between extension and research.

His research on lighter heifer development is receiving national attention/adoption. His research on fetal programming effects on postnatal calf performance, including carcass characteristics and reproduction, has received national and international recognition, and he is a team member of nationally recognized beef systems research.

In the extension capacity, he provides leadership and subject matter expertise for educational programs in cow-calf production management for the West Central District and statewide expertise in beef reproductive management programs.

John Hall

John Hall, University of Idaho

Topic: Heifer development targets

John Hall received his bachelor's and master's degrees in animal science from the University of Georgia. He obtained his doctorate in animal science (reproductive physiology) from the University of Kentucky in 1991. Currently, he is professor and extension beef cattle specialist located at the University of Idaho Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center, where he also serves as the station superintendent. Prior to coming to Idaho, Hall was on faculty at the University of Minnesota and Virginia Tech.

His role is to conduct research and extension programs on beef reproduction and beef cow-calf systems. His particular interests are in estrus synchronization systems, use of gender selected semen, heifer development, nutrition reproduction interactions, and utilization of forages.

John is a seventh-generation agriculturalist, and resides in Carmen, Idaho, with his wife. They have two adult sons.

Gregg Hanzlicek

Gregg Hanzlicek, Kansas State University

Topic: Reproductive and other emerging disease concerns

Gregg Hanzlicek is the director of production animal field disease investigations at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Before taking this position, he was a bovine practitioner for 18 years.

John Kastelic

John Kastelic, University of Calgary

Topic: Male fertility

John Kastelic was born on a cattle farm (dairy and later beef) near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His education includes a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Saskatchewan and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He is a specialist in animal reproduction (diplomate, American College of Theriogenologists). His research has primarily been in cattle reproduction (male and female), and he is author or co-author of approximately 210 peer-reviewed papers and 240 abstracts, proceedings and reports.

He spent two years in private veterinary practice, 22 years as a research scientist (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) and is currently professor of theriogenology and head of the Department of Production Animal Health, University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Cliff Lamb, Texas A&M University

Topic: Embryo transfer: managing recipients and donors

Cliff Lamb is currently head of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University. Prior to his current position, he served as the assistant director and professor at the North Florida Research and Education Center at the University of Florida.  He received his bachelor's degree in animal science from Middle Tennessee State University in 1992. He completed the requirements for the master's and doctoral. degrees at Kansas State University in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

His primary research efforts have focused on applied reproductive physiology in cattle emphasizing synchronization of estrus in replacement heifers and postpartum cows. In 2013, Lamb and six colleagues received the USDA-NIFA Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts for their extension efforts in reproductive management. He was named as a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor in 2014 and the recipient of the 2015 American Society of Animal Science Animal Production Award.

Other awards include the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents Specialist of the Year Award. He also received the University of Florida Department of Animal Science Graduate Student Mentor Awardee. His programs have received more than $10 million in grant funds or gifts. He has published more than 102 refereed journal articles, along with more than 452 extension and research reports. 

Dan M. Larson

Dan M. Larson, Great Plains Livestock Consulting

Topic: Developing breeding bulls for the commercial cattleman

Dan Larson was raised on a diverse hay and beef cattle operation in northwestern Minnesota. The family farm focuses on purebred cattle in addition to commercial cow-calf production. This upbringing instilled a passion for the beef industry, which led to a master’s degree from North Dakota State University in ruminant nutrition focusing on feedlot nutrition while managing the university feedlot for four years.

At the University of Nebraska, Larson received a doctrate in applied reproductive physiology with an emphasis on nutritional programs to improve reproduction in cow-calf production. He is employed by Great Plains Livestock Consulting Inc., based in Eagle, Neb.. His focus is on nutritional and reproductive strategies in cow-calf systems, as well as feedlot nutrition.

Sandra Levering, ABS Glogal, Protection, Kan.

Topic: Characteristics of successful breeding programs – AI industry perspective

Doug O’Hare, O’Hare Ranch, Ainsworth, Neb.

Topic: How we make reproductive technologies pay; heifer development perspective

The O’Hare Family has been ranching in Brown County, Nebraska, for well over 100 years. In the early 1990s, Doug’s father, Kenneth, began purchasing heifers and bringing them back to the ranch for development and sale.

They have used most of the possible heifer synchronization products and systems over the years, starting with Syncro-Mate-B. Doug is open to looking at ways to improve results and has been involved with several research projects through the years.

David Patterson

Dave Patterson, University of Missouri

Topic: Estrous synchronization protocol evolution and practical application

David Patterson is a faculty member in the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri. A native of Montana, he completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at Montana State University. Research for his master's was conducted at the USDA Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, Mont. He received a doctorate in reproductive physiology from Kansas State University.

Patterson has received over $9 million in competitive funding to support his research program, and his publication record includes over 400 refereed journal articles, scientific abstracts, proceedings papers and presentations at national and international meetings. His research efforts have gained wide industry acceptance and resulted in new strategies to synchronize estrous cycles of postpartum beef cows and replacement beef heifers. Patterson’s research program received funding for the past 17 years from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Competitive Grants Program, which led to the development of four progestin-based protocols to facilitate fixed- time AI in beef heifers and cows along with a modified breeding strategy using split-time AI.

Patterson led the development of Missouri’s Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program. During the past 20 years, 843 farms have enrolled 136,499 heifers in the program. The program has facilitated the sale of 33,116 heifers in 151 sales across Missouri, with heifers sold into 20 states. It is the first statewide, on-farm beef heifer development and marketing program of its kind in the United States. The impact of the program on Missouri’s economy during the past 20 years exceeds $120 million.

Patterson was recognized as Man of the Year in Missouri Agriculture in 2001; was a past recipient of the American Society of Animal Science Extension and Animal Industry Service Awards in 2006 and 2007, respectively; the Beef Improvement Federation Continuing Service Award in 2010; the Frederick Mumford Outstanding Faculty Member in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources in 2012; the 2012 Research Award presented by the National Association of Animal Breeders; the 2013 NIFA Partnership Award for Mission Integration of Research, Education and Extension; the 2013 NIFA Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts; the 2014 C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award; the 2015 MU President’s Award for Economic Development; and in 2017 was named as one of “50 Missourians You Should Know,” Ingrams’s Kansas City’s Business Magazine.

Patterson served as chairman of the Beef Reproduction Task Force.

Randy Prather, University of Missouri

Topic: Next on the horizon for genetic technology

Since 1982 Randy Prather’s research has focused on the early mammalian embryo. He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from Kansas State University, and his doctorate and postdoc from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While at Wisconsin, he cloned the first pigs, and some of the first cattle, by nuclear transfer. His group at the University of Missouri created miniature pigs that have the alpha 1,3 galactosyltransferase gene knocked out, thus paving the way for xenotransplantation. His group helped to develop pigs that have cystic fibrosis, thus providing the first whole-animal model that can be used to study the disease. More recently, his lab created pigs that are not susceptible to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. His lab at MU has made more than 55 different genetic modifications for agriculture and medicine. He is the director of the NIH-funded National Swine Resource and Research Center.

In addition to his transgenic pig research, he and his collaborators have identified genes in the reproductive tissues of pigs and cattle that will help develop an understanding of the pattern of gene expression to reduce the 30% loss of pregnancies that naturally occurs in mammals. He has helped to acquire more than $113,000,000 in external research funding; $58,000,000 has come directly to MU.

He is currently a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Division of Animal Science at the University of Missouri.

David R. Smith

David R Smith, Mississippi State University

Topic: Systems approach to animal health

David Smith is the Hall-Davis Endowed Professor and Beef Program Leader at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is a board-certified veterinary epidemiologist with interest in discovering how to improve the health, well-being and productivity of cattle, while benefiting human and environmental health.

He serves on the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Committee on Animal Health.

Randall Spare

Randall Spare, Ashland Veterinary Service, Ashland, Kan.

Topic: Characteristics of successful breeding programs – A veterinarian perspective

Randall Spare has practiced in Clark County, Kansas, for more than 25 years. A graduate of K-State University School of Veterinary Medicine, he and four veterinarians at Ashland Veterinary Center (AVC) provide large- and small-animal care to a diverse customer base in a four-state radius centered in southwest Kansas.

Spare and his veterinary team manage the herd health for some of the largest registered Angus seedstock producers in the United States, as well as providing comprehensive services to commercial cow-calf producers and feedyards. He is also a commercial cow-calf producer and cattle feeder and is involved in an extensive heifer development program.

Herd health management, nutritional consulting, disease prevention and testing, genomic and reproductive services, equine reproduction and acupuncture are all services offered by the AVC team. The AVC bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) lab tests more than 30,000 samples each year to eradicate one of the costliest illnesses in beef production. In addition, AVC veterinarians and support staff are responsible for managing the requirements of international exports for cattle shipments.

Access to genomic information and a positive economic environment for cow-calf producers has resulted in the growth of AI and the use of genomic technology. Spare and the Ashland Veterinary Center provide complete reproductive services, including synchronization, AI, genomic testing and semen sales on several thousand head of commercial and registered cattle each year.

The bottom line to having “skin in the game” in today’s beef marketing environment is understanding what costs money or provides a chance to make a profit. Spare’s focus on whole-herd health, nutrition and genomic information is a result of collaborative relationships with his clients and his own commitment to understanding the many opportunities to add value to beef cattle, regardless of end point.

Jeffrey Stevenson

Jeffrey S. Stevenson, Kansas State University

Topic: Physiology of the estrous cycle

Jeff Stevenson is a native of the western United States. He holds a bachelor's degree is in dairy science from Utah State University and earned his master's from Michigan State University. He was trained in reproductive physiology and received his doctorate in 1980 at North Carolina State University. Since then, he progressed through the academic ranks and is professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University.

He has authored more than 170 scientific journal papers and served as monthly contributing author of the "Artificial Breeding" column in Hoard’s Dairyman since 1991.

Since 1990, Stevenson has been recognized for his research by the American Dairy Science Association and the National Association of Animal Breeders. In 2012 he was awarded the American Society of Animal Science Physiology and Endocrinology Award. He was also named an American Society of Animal Science Fellow.

Kimberly Vonnahme, North Dakota State University

Topic: Feeding the future: How maternal nutrition impacts the next generation

Kimberly Vonnahme grew up on a livestock and grain farm in West-Central Iowa. She earned her bachelor's degree from Iowa State University majoring in animal science, her master's degree at Oklahoma State University, and her doctorate from the University of Wyoming. In 2004, she accepted an assistant professor position in the Department of Animal Sciences to teach and conduct research. She was promoted to associate in 2010 and in 2016 was promoted to full professor. She also was awarded the Engberg Endowed Professorship in 2016.

Vonnahme’s research program focuses on how fetal and placental development in livestock can be impacted by the environment with emphasis on maternal. More specifically, she is interested in how the maternal nutrition affects uteroplacental blood flow, development of the placenta, and nutrient transfer. She currently is developing a pregnancy test for livestock. She has garnered $2 million in research funds, has over 115 peer-reviewed publications and has advised or co-advised 19 master's and six doctoral students and one post-doc.

She is married to Michael, and they have a daughter, Katie, and a son, Joe.