Beef Unit

Brian DeFreese, Manager
Phone (765) 496-7922
Fax (765) 583-3007

The purpose of the Beef Unit is to provide cattle and facilities for intensive and extensive research in nutrition, physiology, genetics, growth and development, and meats, as well as undergraduate teaching. The manager, assistant manager, plus three farm animal technicians provide labor and technical assistance as well as take care of all daily management and care of the animals; student part-time labor equals about 1.5 FTE. Facilities at ASREC (located on the Calvert tract) were completed in 1986, and remain one of the most modern, complete facilities of its kind in the country. The Scholer Farm, managed as part of the Beef Unit, includes 883 acres of pasture, cropland, and woods and is used for cow-calf production. Scholer's rolling timber soils are more typical of southern Indiana and its extensive cow-calf industry.

The breeding herd consists of 400 Angus/Simmental crossbred females. Typically, 200 head of heifers and first-calf cows are maintained at the Calvert facility, while the remaining 200 head of brood cows are maintained at the Scholer farm.

The metabolism center includes offices, computers, and conference room for staff use; 16 metabolism crates, and eight individual pens lend themselves for intensive nutrition and physiology research. The building provides a temperature-controlled environment and utilizes geothermal heating and cooling to reduce operating cost.

Two separate nutrition barns have a total of 48 individual cow or cow-calf pair pens. Their primary use is for intensive studies where feed and/or water intake need to be measured on individual animals. Two separate management barns have a total of 29 pens that can accommodate six animals/pen. These facilities are used to conduct feedlot nutrition trials, cow nutrition research during gestation, and also serve as calving facilities through the spring calving season. Nine mounded lots are used to manage cows in "drylot" conditions during the winter and feedlot cattle in summer. The mounds have filter fabric immediately behind the concrete pad and in the approach to the mound to provide more solid footing during muddy conditions. Seven experimental pastures are used during the growing season to evaluate grazing systems. Both cool-season (orchardgrass and fescue) and warm-season grass species are used. Individual pastures (17.5 acres) may be subdivided into 2 or 4 equal size paddocks to accommodate intensive rotational grazing research.

Two barns with a total of 32 group feeding pens are used for research with growing-finishing cattle. Each pen, capable of housing eight steers, has slatted floors with a shallow pit that is flushed once weekly to a two-stage lagoon. Stage two lagoon water is recycled into the pit. A third barn is used for intensive research with cattle. This facility has 48 individual pens and a waste handling system similar to the other slatted floor barns. Weanling steers from Purdue cow herds are fed in these facilities from early October through May. Yearling steers may be purchased in late May and used in summer research trials.

The feed center has eleven silos (six high-density, oxygen-limiting concrete and five conventional concrete stave) available for experimental use. They typically contain corn silage, high-moisture corn, and haylage. All feed records are stored in a computerized database.

Two separate handling facilities are used. Each facility has a crowding tub, curved alley, electronic scale, and squeeze chute. They were designed and located separately to minimize the potential transmission of disease from feedlot animals to the cow herd.

The individual-pen barn and the two grow-finish barns can be flushed to the two-cell lagoon. Affluent from the second cell can be pumped back to these barns for reuse in flushing. All other barns are bedded and this solid waste is either composted or hauled directly to cropland and spread.

Take a photo tour of the Beef Unit


Department of Animal Sciences, 270 S Russell Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4808

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