The purpose of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Beef Cattle Nutrition Program in Amarillo is to provide reliable, relevant, and unbiased information to clientele interested in beef cattle production in the Texas High Plains region. Clientele are primarily beef producers, but may also include allied industry personnel, commodity groups, regulatory agencies, and interested citizens. The program is designed to mimic beef production systems in the Texas High Plains which are primarily post-weaning systems and encompass newly received calves, stocker operations, and finishing systems. These production systems are often intensive and are thus required to control environmental impacts of production. Additionally, the High Plains Region has limited rainfall and depleting underground water supply. The cumulative impacts of intensive cattle feeding on air quality, water quality, and water use is of public concern. Therefore, our mission at Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Amarillo is to develop nutritional and management strategies to improve production efficiencies and animal health while reducing nutrient losses to the environment, conserving natural resources, and improving the quality of beef delivered to the consumer.
Our facilities and resources allow for research related to animal health, stocker cattle in native range and annual forage systems, growing and finishing systems, and nutrient utilization. Beef finishing systems are a major focus of the program because one-third of US beef cattle are finished within 150 mile radius of Amarillo. Use of distiller’s grains in finishing systems continues to be an important part of our program because of the dramatic shift in corn use from ethanol production. As the beef industry changes relative to markets, weather, and consumer perception, a priority of our program is to maintain the most innovative approach to research needs. This includes new technologies available for feeding beef cattle, better understanding the genetic potential of animals, and incorporating all sectors of the industry as each stage of production effects the next. We continue to collaborate with the USDA-ARS-CPRL Livestock Nutrient Management Research Unit as we pursue similar interests in analyzing and improving the environmental impact of the beef industry. This is a vital partnership to our research program and a major contribution to our success.
Dr. Jennings is the project leader for the beef cattle nutrition program. Her major responsibilities include planning, funding, conducting, and publishing research in ruminant nutrition and production systems involving beef cattle feedlots and stocker cattle. The project leader supervises research personnel associated with an experimental feedlot, research farm, and associated laboratories and oversees the management of a ruminant nutrition laboratory, metabolism laboratory, experimental feedlot, and experimental farm. Additionally, the project leader participates as a team member in animal nutrition and health with other faculty affiliated with the Consortium for Cattle Feeding and Environmental Sciences, and the Cooperative Research, Education, and Extension Team.