CSU, Chico

Heifers Fitted with Cannulas for Research at University Farm

Heifers Fitted with Cannulas for Research at University Farm

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the philosophy of hands-on learning found a new outlet at the California State University, Chico University Farm. With the guidance of Dr. Mike Karle of Mid Valley Veterinary Hospital, animal science professors gave students an opportunity to observe a procedure to install rumen cannulas.  Rumen cannulas are porthole-like devices that allow access to the rumen and were fitted to four heifers at the University Farm Beef Unit.  This procedure was approved through the CSU, Chico Animal Care and Use Committee and through the spring semester, research will be conducted to determine if spent brewer’s grain is a suitable winter feed supplement for range cows grazing annual grasslands. The heifers fitted with cannulas will help determine the digestibility of the brewer’s grains through collections of rumen fluid samples.

Several classes were able to watch and learn from the cannulation process, which hasn’t been performed at the University Farm in about 25 years, said animal science lecturer Kasey DeAtley. 

“It was incredible to be able to be a part of a procedure like that and to see and experience it first-hand,” said student research assistant Cain Madrigal. “It’s days like this when we get to apply what we hear, learn, and study in our classes that make the College of Agriculture stand out. Even more incredible than the actual experience of the procedure is having those heifers out at the farm through the spring semester for students to study. We will literally be able to see feed being digested.”

Through the spring semester, students will feed the heifers daily, take weight measurements on the heifers every 28 days, collect rumen fluid samples, and conduct data analyses. 

The research project is titled “Utility of Spent Brewer’s Grain As a Winter Supplementation Strategy for Beef Cattle” and it is a collaborative effort between Dr. Kasey DeAtley, Dr. Dave Daley, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The first phase of the project will use the University’s Angus and Red Angus weaned heifers which will be split into two treatments to determine the effect of supplementing brewer’s grain in a heifer development/growing diet.  

For more information about the research project, contact Kasey DeAtley at kdeatley@csuchico.edu.