Research activities at the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center are focused on reproduction, nutrition and forages. Current and recent research projects include:
- Gender selected semen in commercial herds
- Estrus synchronization programs
- Interaction of feed efficiency and productivity
- Impact of crossbred bulls on commercial herds
- Genomic analysis of heifers
Improving feed efficiency in beef cattle
- Researchers investigated the impacts of selection for improved feed efficiency on feedlot performance, carcass characteristics and consumer acceptance. This research was conducted in collaboration with the American Red Angus Association and AgriBeef.
Use of sexed semen in commercial beef herds
- Gender selected, or sexed semen, allows producers to artificially inseminate cows with semen that is 90 percent of the desired sex. This research focused on:
- The impact of a single insemination to sexed semen followed by natural service on pregnancy rates and gender ratios.
- Strategies to improve fixed-time artificial insemination success with sexed semen.
- Initial results indicated that X-sorted semen can be used to generate replacement heifers from a select group of cows. Continuing research examines using Y-sorted semen to increase the percentage of steers marketed.
- The American Simmental Association, Genex CRI, ABS Global, AgriBeef and Pfizer partnered on this research.
Improving fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) systems for beef heifers
- Artificial insemination (AI) of heifers reduces calving difficulty and increases the rate of genetic improvement, but traditional AI systems are labor intensive. Development of FTAI systems allows large numbers of females to be bred on a single day.
- This research is leading to a better understanding of factors affecting FTAI success in heifers as well as several improved systems.
Increasing forage yields in dry pivot corners
- Center pivot irrigation decreases the labor associated with irrigation and increases irrigation efficiency. However, corners of square fields and areas of irregularly shaped fields remain unirrigated. This research examines the potential for fall-planted small grains (triticale or rye) and/or Austrian winter peas to increase forage production in these dry corners.
- Harvest year 2014 is the fifth year of this 5- to 7-year study.
Warm season annuals for extending the grazing season
- Reducing fall and winter feed costs in Idaho herds is important for sustainability of the family ranch. This three-year project examined yield and number of grazing days per acre of five different warm season annual species (sorghum X sudangrass, proso millet, german foxtail millet, corn and teff). These annuals were also examined for nutrient content and grazability after snow.
- Preliminary results indicated that when planted in mid-summer (early July) all species will provide sufficient energy and protein for dry pregnant cows when forage is grazed in November and December. Sorghum X sudangrass and corn had the highest yields, averaging 2.5 to 5.0 tons/acre.
Current and past research data archive
Included are trace mineral research data collected from the 1970's into the 1980's by University of Idaho researchers in Lemhi and Custer counties.