Tarleton State University Animal Sciences department serves the Texas beef industry by engaging in teaching and research that enhances the quality of life for Texans through opportunities to advance in efficient management, productivity, environmental sustainability and product quality.
Because cattle are raised in all counties of Texas and Texas is the largest beef producing state in the union, the beef industry has a large impact on the state's economy. Thus, our teaching and research is aimed at student participation (experiential learning), economic focus and science based management practices that prepares them to work in the cattle industry.
Since a 1,000-pound market steer only yields approximately 425 pounds of beef in the freezer or on the retail counter, efficiency is the name of the game. At the same time, of the carcass, 95+ percent is either used as meat or recovered as byproducts, both edible and inedible. Byproducts are used to make a wide variety of goods including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and clothing. Many of the TSU graduate embrace a multitude yet a variety of paths for their careers.
The Tarleton Beef Cattle program endeavors to conduct applied beef cattle research and hands-on teaching that benefits beef cattle producers and ultimately the consumers. The TSU Agricultural Center is visited by tour groups from all over the world. Undergraduate students are exposed to the daily routine involved in the management of a commercial cow-calf and purebred operation. Students are able to participate in class and lab settings, through part-time employment or by assisting with undergraduate or graduate research endeavors.
Again, the teaching focus strives for excellence in hands-on teaching. The herd has both spring and fall calving programs. Purebred calves are born in the spring - primarily January and February. The primary purebred animals are Angus while the commercial/crossbred cattle are Angus, Simmental, Hereford and Maine Anjou crosses. The fall born calves are designated as the commercial herd and are born mostly in late September to early November each year.
Angus Breeding Goals:
1. Maximum performance with acceptable birth weights
2. Productive functional cattle that are structurally sound
3. Adequate/moderate frame size
4. Provide animals for teaching, research and service activities such as judging contests.
The surplus (both purebred and commercial) spring and fall born calves are retained and used for teaching classes and contests. The TSU Agricultural Center facility serves as a teaching laboratory for several Animal Sciences courses including introductory animal science, beef production, reproductive physiology, livestock evaluation, and special problems. The cattle are used in 8+ undergraduate and two to four graduate classes, judging contests, and other beef promotions and educational training purposes.
The modern working facilities provide students with many opportunities to gain hands-on experience. The beef production class participates in calving out the cow herd as well as maintaining health programs of the cow herd. The program also supports programs targeting youth and adults interested in the beef cattle industry and is the site for many 4-H and FFA activities throughout the year.
The cow herd consists of approximately 25 to 30 registered Angus and 35-40 commercial cows. The cattle are maintained in pastures along with the horse, sheep/goat and swine programs that encompass 700 acres near campus and 1200 acres ten miles east of Stephenville,Texas, at the Hunewell Ranch. The pasture program is primarily coastal bermudagrass. Some of the pastures are seeded with a small grain for winter forage. These pastures vary in size from 5 acres to 30 acres and are grazed on a rotational basis. Artificial Insemination is used in both purebred and commercial cows for a 60 day calving season. Yet, cleanup bulls are used for a short period of time at the end of the breeding period.