CSU, Chico

$50,000 Donation Supports Installation of Electronic Feed System at CSU, Chico Farm

$50,000 Donation Supports Installation of Electronic Feed System at CSU, Chico Farm

The College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico received a donation of $50,000 from Green Valley Enterprises and Alturas Ranches to install six GrowSafe feeders at the University Farm. The generous donation was used as a match to obtain an Agricultural Research Institute grant, which is offered only to California State Universities for agriculture research. Obtaining the grant was a collaborative effort between animal science professors Dave Daley, Patrick Doyle, and Kasey DeAtley.

GrowSafe systems collect individual data to monitor feed intake and animal behavior. Each steer is tagged with an electronic ear tag, which tracks and records feed intake each time the animal eats. The system automatically calculates intake by monitoring the weight of feed in the feed bin before, during and after each animal eats in a herd setting. Having individual intakes for animals in a pen allows operation managers to identify more efficient animals compared to herd mates and also help manage potential health issues, identifying animals that go off feed.

Barry Swenson, owner of Green Valley Enterprises and Alturas Ranches, made the donation in support of research that will compare the growth performance, feed efficiency and carcass traits of commercial and Lowline Angus–influenced cattle. Twenty commercial steers, 20 half-blood Lowline Angus steers and eight full-blood Lowline Angus steers were brought to the University Farm to study. The three breed groups will be fed out until they are market ready and will be slaughtered at the University Farm Meats Lab. Through the spring semester, students at the Beef Unit will assist in the research. The data collected will also be used in various classes.

“The GrowSafe system will revolutionize our ability to conduct feed intake research on an individual basis in a herd environment at the University Farm,” said Associate Professor Patrick Doyle. 

Assisant Professor Kasey DeAtley added, “Barry and the whole crew at Alturas Ranches have been tremendously supportive of our research program, which will give students the opportunity to be on the forefront of beef cattle feeding technology in breed research.”

For more information about this project, contact DeAtley at kdeatley@csuchico.edu.