beef cattle

Beef Unit

Brian DeFreese, Manager | Phone (765) 496-7922 |


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 unit has a manager, assistant manager, herdsman, and assistant herdsman, plus undergraduate students. Facilities at ASREC (located on the Calvert tract) were completed in 1987, 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 approximately 260 Angus/Simmental calving females and breed approximately 80 replacement heifers each year. Typically, 140 head of heifers and first-calf cows are maintained at the Calvert facility, while the remaining 200 head of older 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 intake can 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 "dry lot" 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 (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 seven to 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 back into the pit. A third barn has 48 individual pens and a waste handling system similar to the other slatted floor barns is used for intensive growing-finishing research. 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 beef unit 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 rations and 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.