CSU, Chico

Cain Madrigal, Animal Science

Cain Madrigal, Animal Science

Senior animal science major Cain Madrigal is no rookie when it comes to managing livestock. Originally from Likely, Calif., Madrigal started his journey at Shasta College where he was chosen to live in the agriculture farm dorms in return for managing the livestock units. At California State University, Chico,Madrigal has taken on the role of lead swine herdsman at the University Farm. And with his proven track record, hard work, and passion for the livestock industry, Madrigal earned an internship with Harris Ranch last summer, where he hopes to return to launch his career after graduation this May. 

Madrigal transferred to CSU, Chico in the fall of 2012 from Shasta College. At Shasta he was selected to be one of eight students to live on the school farm and manage the livestock units. “The Farm Dorm Program is designed specifically for students who genuinely want to learn about agriculture, are responsible, self-motivated, take pride in their work, and can get along well with others,” said Madrigal. With the exception of $100 a month for groceries, students who live on the farm are housed there for free in exchange for a commitment of 14 work hours a week. Each month Madrigal and the other interns rotated through a work area on the farm that included the swine unit, the beef unit, the sheep and goat unit, and an irrigation unit.   

While attending Shasta College, Madrigal served as the State Technology Representative on the 2011–2012 Collegiate Agriculture Leaders (CAL) State Officer Team. CAL is an organization that encompasses all community and junior colleges with agriculture programs in the state of California. Madrigal and his team were responsible for organizing, executing, and overseeing a leadership conference, a career building contest, and officer elections. Through his role with this organization Madrigal facilitated leadership workshops, ran awards ceremonies, and helped host agricultural tours. Also while at Shasta Community College, Madrigal served two years on the Agriculture Leadership Team, first as treasurer then as president. 

Madrigal transferred to CSU, Chico for the strong agriculture program. “The professors in the College of Agriculture are really good at relating to their students,” said Madrigal. “They take the time to get to know you and really care about your future.” Originally starting out as an agriculture education major, the hands-on learning at the University Farm opened his eyes to his passion for livestock, and Madrigal changed his major to animal science.

His agriculture and leadership experience at Shasta College laid a solid foundation for Madrigal as he embarked on the next phase of his educational career at CSU, Chico. Madrigal got a job working at the swine unit the summer before starting the fall 2012 semester. Now in his second year at the swine unit, he works as the lead swine herdsman and lives at the University Farm. Cain and his co-workers are responsible for feeding, cleaning, vaccinating, hauling, breeding, farrowing, processing litters, selling project pigs, and all other responsibilities involved in running a swine operation. 

In addition to his role at the swine unit, Madrigal was just selected to work with a research project being conducted at the beef unit. The research project is titled “Utility of Spent Brewer’s Grain As a Winter Supplementation Strategy for Beef Cattle” and is a collaborative effort between Dr. Dave Daley, Dr. Kasey Deatley, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and the UC Davis Sierra-Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley, Calif. Through the spring semester, Madrigal will be working with the project to determine if spent brewer’s grain will be a suitable winter feed supplement for range cows grazing annual grasslands. The first phase will use the University’s Angus and Red Angus weaned heifers. The heifers will be split into two treatments; the first will receive dormant pasture, alfalfa, and corn silage, and the second group will be fed dormant pasture, brewer’s grain, and alfalfa. To prepare for the project, Madrigal has been halter breaking four of the heifers so that they can be fitted with rumen cannulas, which are porthole-like devices that allow access to the rumen. He will be working closely with the project through the spring semester collecting data, feeding the heifers, weighing the heifers every 28 days, and collecting rumen fluid samples. 

Animal science lecturer Kasey DeAtley has confidence that Madrigal will be a great asset to the research team. “After having Cain in my beef class last spring, I knew he was a very hard worker and was extremely detail-oriented; those two traits don’t always come in one person. I think I was most excited about hiring Cain because of his enthusiasm to learn,” said DeAtley. “He knows when to ask questions and when to work through something on his own. He is reliable and flexible and it has been a great experience being able to work with him during the past year. There isn’t any doubt that he is going to be a great asset to the livestock industry.”

Outside of his work commitments at the University Farm, Madrigal serves as the vice president for the CSU, Chico Young Cattlemen’s Association (YCA). The association strives to promote agriculture literacy, promote the beef industry, and most importantly, holds on campus tri-tip barbeques for the University. Madrigal and other YCA members just returned home from a trip to the California Cattlemen’s Association Conference in Reno, Nevada. At the conference, YCA members network with industry professionals, are exposed to companies at the conference tradeshow, and attend YCA meetings.

Last summer, Madrigal was given the opportunity to intern for Harris Ranch, a 100,000-head cattle feedlot located in Coalinga, Calif. The internship paid Madrigal for his work as well as provided him with housing on the feedlot for the summer. He initially made contact with the company through animal science Professor Dave Daley, but it wasn’t until he spoke with representatives at the College of Agriculture’s annual career fair that he was offered the position. During his internship he rotated through each major work area of the ranch. For his first three weeks he worked in processing. The next three he rode the feedlot pens checking for sick and injured cattle. After that he worked three weeks in the hospital of the ranch caring for cattle. His last three weeks of his internship he worked at the feed mill, where the company creates their own specific feed rations. 

“I can’t thank Dr. Dave Daley enough for pushing me to pursue a career in beef production. He has helped open so many doors for me and provided me with opportunities I wouldn’t have had without his guidance.” Madrigal hopes to stay in production agriculture after graduation by working for a large feedlot such as Harris Ranch managing animal health and welfare.