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Animal Sciences Extension

Cooperative Extension and the Commercial Agriculture Program

Extension's major role in the Division of Animal Science is to extend its research and knowledge base to meet the needs of all Missouri citizens.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is firmly based on the land-grant philosophy of teaching, research and extension. The people of Missouri expect this University to provide them with opportunities for lifelong education, in order for them to survive, grow and prosper as individuals, family members, community members and citizens. The University has a long and successful history of meeting those expectations through Extension.

The campus plan emphasizes the central importance of extension in its mission statement by stressing the need for "effective outreach sensitive to the needs of the people of the state." The Division of Animal Sciences is home to specialists with joint appointments in Extension and Research, or Extension. These specialists are funded either through the traditional Cooperative Extension program at MU or the Commercial Agriculture Program.

State Specialists hired through Cooperative Extension hold Experiment Station appointments and progress through the promotion and tenure ranks. State specialists provide expertise by discipline within a particular species.

The Commercial Agriculture Program develops educational programs targeted to agricultural businesses and organizations that support them. The Commercial Agriculture Program is funded as a line item from the Missouri Legislature. This program involves a focus-team approach considering all aspects of crop and animal production. Faculty in Animal Science serve on various focus teams including beef, dairy, and swine. State Specialists hired through the Commercial Agriculture Program provide expertise by discipline within a particular species but do not hold Experiment Station appointments and are eligible for promotion without tenure.

Extension Program Areas

The General Goal fo the Extension Program is to promote profitable and sustainable livestock and meat production through improvements in efficiency of animal and meat production.

Livestock production systems in Missouri are influenced by: Climate; soil types and terrain; location; availability of markets; environmental regulations; renewable resources including grain, forages and water; and government policy. Collectively, these factors contribute to the current structure and viability of animal agriculture in the state.

Beef - Missouri ranks second in the nation in total numbers of beef cows in production, with over 2 million cows on 68,000 farms. Revenue generated from cattle production contributes nearly one billion dollars to Missouri’s economy annually. Over a 10-year period, the value of Missouri cattle production is nearly tied with the value of Missouri soybean production as the number one commodity in the state. Beef enterprises are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in a global marketplace where large producers use economies of scale to be more profitable. This is especially true for producers in Missouri, given the average herd size of 34 cows. Please see our New Estrus Synchronization Courses.

Dairy - Missouri ranks 20th in the U.S. in dairy production with 1,760 licensed producers and 115,000 dairy cows. The grass-based dairy program is thriving in Southwest Missouri. New Zealand investment groups have strengthened the dairy infrastructure in the region. These groups have invested over $50 million in Missouri, providing jobs and economic growth. The “500 cow grazing dairy” is environmentally compatible and acceptable to the local people.

Equine - The Missouri equine industry ranks third in the U.S. with over 200,000 horses at 37,000 locations across the state. The equine inventory is comprised of 173,000 head of light horse breeds, 4,000 race horse breeds, 6,000 draft horse breeds, 8,000 pony breeds and 9,000 donkeys, mules and burros. The estimated value of all equine located in Missouri is $420 million, second only to cattle and calves.

Swine - Missouri ranks sixth in the United States in swine production with nearly 4,000 operations producing a total of 6.3 million pigs. The total number of Missouri swine enterprises has declined from 10,500 operations in 1994 to 5,000 operations in 1998. Another 20 percent were lost by 2000. However, total average inventory of pigs has changed very little.

Poultry - Missouri’s poultry and egg production sector accounted for nearly 1 billion dollars or approximately 30% of the state’s annual value contributed by all livestock according to the 2005 Missouri Farm Facts. Of this, broiler chickens accounted for 57% or approximately 590 million, turkeys 29% (280 million) and eggs 10% or slightly over 100 million. Turkey production ranked 4th in the nation in 2004 with 21.5 million turkeys and the state is also home for a substantial
turkey hatching egg industry. There are 3 turkey slaughter plants in Missouri and 6 broiler chicken processing plants located in southwest, southeast, and central Missouri.

Food processing - Missouri ranks sixth in the United States in the number of food processors. With the exception of two major poultry processing facilitates and two major pork processing facilities, these meat processors fall into the small and very small categories. Missouri is one of the few states known for making country cured hams.

Major Program Thrusts

Factors impacting animal agriculture in Missouri include: Labor, biosecurity and air quality, waste management and water quality, business management, and new technology. To address these trends and issues, the Extension Livestock Production Systems program has focused on the following major program thrusts:

Youth Programs

Poultry. A cooperative poultry youth program with the state Department of Secondary Education, Agricultural Education programs, the 4-H Youth Development staff, and with science curricula specialists in the state’s primary educational system has been developed. Small flock and alternative flock problems and queries are addressed in cooperation with veterinarian consultation with the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Food production animals. Through the cooperation of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, regional specialists, state veterinarians, 4-H and FFA educators’ emphasis on increasing the knowledge and awareness of Missouri youth about food quality issues related to animal production (beef, swine, sheep, goat, rabbit, poultry, and dairy).

Swine: Efforts in increasing the interest in young people to pursue careers in the swine industry and improve the knowledge about modern pork production.