Chanda Engel, NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center
In both 2013 and 2014 an animal science student who was in between their freshman and sophomore or sophomore and junior year in a bachelor’s of science program, at NDSU, were interviewed and employed in a beef production internship at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center (CREC).
Much of the corn grain production in North Dakota is processed in the state resulting in millions of tons of feed grain and by-product feeds available annually. North Dakota cattlemen had 869,000 head of beef cows in 2010 but only 90,000 head of cattle were fed to market weight. The availability of exceptionally good quality feeder cattle, combined with the availability of abundant and variable feed ingredients, leaves no doubt that North Dakota has the potential to increase beef feedlot finishing in the state. Increasing cattle feeding and beef cow numbers in North Dakota would increase the amount of North Dakota produced corn and processed corn byproducts utilized in North Dakota. However, the culture of cattle feeding and beef production in North Dakota is trending downward. Providing high school and college age students opportunities to gain experience with cattle feeding, through production internships, is an opportunity for the corn industry to actively engage in reversing this trend. These experiences can kindle a desire and passion for beef production and cattle feeding in the state and provide these young people with the tools to be successful cattle producers and managers, and position them to utilize the quality corn grain and byproducts feeds produced in North Dakota.
The students assisted with daily activities in both the cow-calf (both year-round dry lot and pasture systems) and feedlot program at the NDSU CREC. The students were able to gain valuable insight in what needs to be done to manage a diversified livestock production operation. The interns also assisted with feedlot and cow-calf research, much of which was focused around the use of corn and corn by-products in cattle rations. The students were exposed to ration balancing and how to properly sample and analyze the nutritional value of feedstuffs. The students had to develop a report based on their internship experiences to receive college credit towards achieving their bachelor’s degree. Both students planned to stay in ND and either return to the home operation or work within the beef industry sector in the state.