K-State's Megan Rolf Continues Search for Elusive Genetic Trait to Improve Cattle's Water-EfficiencyWed, 29 Aug 2018 15:25:40 CDT
Former Oklahoma State University faculty member and now a member of the Animal Science Department at Kansas State University, Dr. Megan Rolf has always had an interest in animal nutrition and in conjunction with that the efficient use of resources as well. Before leaving OSU to return home to Kansas, Roth began a study on the concept of finding the most efficient cattle genetics that reflect water efficiencies within those beef cows and has since continued her work at K-State.
“I first got interested in this subject mainly around 2012 when there was a large drought in Oklahoma,” she recounted. “But, it’s something I’ve always sort of been thinking about in my mind. I’ve always had an interest in water use and how beef cattle and the beef industry might be able to make more water efficient cows.”
One of the problems Rolf has been faced with in her research however, is the fact that we really just don’t know how much water cattle actually utilize. We hear about the common “rule-of-thumb” number of gallons recommended on a per head basis, she says, but so far no one has been able to deliver any concrete determinations. Most of the research that has been done on this subject has involved penned up feedlot cattle. That has only been able to help calculate average amounts that are consumed by a group of animals rather than a good idea of how much variation there is in intake from one animal to another. As a geneticist, that is the information Rolf says she is most interested in.
“That’s super, super challenging and an issue I don’t think we’ve probably figured out yet,” she said. “But, one of the other aspects of the project that we’ve been working towards is using rumen temperature boluses to be able to estimate water intake of cows and bulls and other classes of animals out on pasture. One of the things we’ve discovered is that there is a lot of variation in water intake in the cattle we’ve looked at thus far.”
Listen to Rolf talk about this study that she is conducting and the progress she has made, with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, on today’s Beef Buzz. You can also review some of our past conversations with Rolf by using the Search Bar on the right-hand side of your screen. Here’s a link to our last conversation.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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