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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

ARRA - Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, Montana

Contractor Information


Related Links

Link to ARS Recovery Act Info.


Link to USDA Recovery Act Info.


Link to White House's Recovery.gov site.
Recovery.gov


Photo: A prescribed fire at the Henninger Ranch

One goal of the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory is to better understand the interaction of livestock grazing, fire, and drought impacts and their impact on the Great Plains environment.

Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, Montana

  • Scope of work under Recovery Act

Amount: $4 million

Major renovation to the Research Center to address critical deferred maintenance of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and incidental repairs.

Milestones
January 2010 - Construction contract awarded for about $2.9 million for the renovation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for the Ft. Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory.

Construction Photos


Research at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory

The Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Lab supports the American livestock Industry by improving the efficiency of livestock production and the nutritional value of beef. This research helps keep the price of beef stays low for U.S. consumers and helps keep ranching and farmer sustainable.

The approach is of necessity long-term and multi-disciplinary, involving genetics, physiology, nutrition, and microbial metagenomics. Four distinct cattle populations are used: Line 1 Hereford, an intercross of Charolais (25%), Red Angus (50%) and Tarentaise (25%), and two predominantly Hereford-Angus crossbred herds. Line 1 Hereford cattle are ~30% inbred, with consequently reduced fitness, and have close ties to the bovine genome sequence and the general U.S. Hereford population.

Scientists at the ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory sequenced the cow genome as part of an international consortium. ARS scientists throughout the country are using this information to improve beef cattle production. This includes the Miles City scientists, who have identified genetically significant areas related to beef quality and composition. They found a region on one chromosome that influences the concentration of monounsaturated fat—believed to be healthier than saturated fat—in beef. That could lead to identification of the gene or genes responsible and allow for breeding beef with healthier-to-eat fatty acid content.

Socio-economic software developed at the ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, is helping ranchers pick the best sires to use in their breeding programs. The software estimates the relative economic value of multiple cattle traits such as marbling and fat content, making a more complex decision easier and more likely to be successful. Such success helps keep the cost of production down, helping keep beef affordable.

In addition, research at the lab is also focused on reducing the impact of ranching on the rangeland ecology.

Two experiments are replicated across three locations (Miles City, MT, Nunn, CO and Woodward, OK) to determine ecological ramifications of fire seasonality, return interval, and grazing interactions in semiarid rangelands on a north-south gradient across the western Great Plains. Understanding the mechanisms that control disturbance effects on rangelands and animal responses to alterations in the plant community will promote development of proactive management strategies for improved stability in rangelands and rangeland livestock production systems.

Animal Production

Strategies include enhanced efficiency of nutrient utilization and improved reproductive performance. Feed intake levels resulting in adequate body energy stores are widely believed essential for successful reproduction. Feed consumption and replacement of cows culled for reproductive failure are two primary determinants of cost of beef production.

Producers seek to optimally match nutritional environment and genotype to obtain high rates of reproduction. This optimization is complicated by the symbiotic interplay between host animal and rumen microbial populations.

The approach is of necessity long-term and multi-disciplinary, involving genetics, physiology, nutrition, and microbial metagenomics. Four distinct cattle populations are used: Line 1 Hereford, an intercross (CGC) of Charolais (25%), Red Angus (50%) and Tarentaise (25%), and two predominantly Hereford-Angus crossbred herds. Line 1 Hereford cattle are ~30% inbred, with consequently reduced fitness, and have close ties to the bovine genome sequence and the general U.S. Hereford population.

Sustainable Rangeland Production

The other focus at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory is to develop proactive management for sustainable rangeland production, through the work of a team of ecologists, rangeland scientists, and nutritionists..

The planned research is designed to improve sustainability of rangeland production by addressing the interacting effects of disturbances on stability and integrity of rangelands and efficiency of Objectives:

  • Develop strategies and decision tools to proactively manage livestock grazing, fire, and drought impacts on Great Plains community structure and function;
  • Improve animal productivity and product quality based on predicted nutrient intake, forage dynamics, and diet selection processes in the northern Great Plains;
  • Develop management strategies to restore rangelands degraded by weeds and prevent weed invasions in the northern Great Plains.

Experiments are integrated across objectives and will determine the interacting effects of grazing, fire, drought, and invasive plants on plant communities (production, species composition, diversity, heterogeneity, propagation, and survival) and the effects of changes in vegetation and animal physiology on livestock (weight gain, distribution, diet quality, diet selection, diet diversity, foraging efficiency, forage intake, and rumen microbial diversity).

Two experiments are replicated across three locations (Miles City, MT, Nunn, CO and Woodward, OK) to determine ecological ramifications of fire seasonality, return interval, and grazing interactions in semiarid rangelands on a north-south gradient across the western Great Plains. Understanding the mechanisms that control disturbance effects on rangelands and animal responses to alterations in the plant community will promote development of proactive management strategies for improved stability in rangelands and rangeland livestock production systems.




Project Photographs Before Construction

Repairs needed in Miles City Repairs needed in Miles City
Repairs needed in Miles City Repairs needed in Miles City
Repairs needed in Miles City  

Project Photographs During Construction


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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