THE FLORIDA CATTLEMAN AND LIVESTOCK JOURNAL
Hello to the Florida cattlemen and cattlewomen! My name is Phillip Lancaster and I am the newest member of the faculty at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself and my plan for research and extension programs.
I was born and raised in west central Illinois, which is an area dotted by small farming communities. I grew up on my parents’ farm about 10 miles from the town of Industry (pop. 600). The family farm was highly diversified with row crop and alfalfa production, beef cattle, swine, sheep, poultry and even one milk cow. I had a lot of enjoyment working on the farm, which is why I am so passionate about agriculture.
After graduating high school, I went to college at Western Illinois University, a small school 20 miles from home, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Science in 1999. Following college, I worked as an assistant manager at a small feedlot in central Illinois where I interacted with the consulting nutritionist. This spurred my interest in pursuing graduate studies in ruminant nutrition. I completed my Master of Science degree at the University of Missouri where my thesis research focused on using corn ethanol byproducts in a creep feed for nursing calves. I moved on to Texas A&M University to pursue a PhD where my research focused on evaluating feed efficiency in growing beef cattle. Prior to starting my current position, I spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow at Oklahoma State University researching the impact of stocker cattle production systems on marbling development.
In my current position at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center, my research program will focus on enhancing efficiency of beef production systems in south Florida. Efficiency is important to profitability of individual operations. It is also central to reducing the environmental impact of the beef industry in Florida, which is under increasing scrutiny from the general public. Even though I am working in several different areas of research, they all focus on one overall goal and that is to improve the efficiency and sustainability of beef production.
Two of my initial projects are related to feed efficiency. One is evaluating feed efficiency of growing heifers in collaboration with faculty at the North Florida Research and Education Center. The goal of this research is to determine whether heifers are more efficient due to differences in energy metabolism or regulation of feed intake, which will improve our ability to identify genetic markers associated with more efficient cattle. I am also initiating a cow efficiency study with collaborators at Texas A&M University to identify cows that efficiently convert forage energy into pounds of calf weaned using a computer model. The goal of this research is to evaluate the accuracy of the computer model, identify the characteristics of more efficient cows, and determine whether this model can be used to select genetically superior cows for breeding.
Another project I am pursuing is developing nutritional and management strategies that economically achieve greater pregnancy rates in Bos indicus influenced heifers. This project will determine optimum target body weight at start of the breeding season and evaluate the interaction of nutrition and synchronization protocols. I am also collaborating with scientists at the USDA Agriculture Research Service to evaluate methods of improving the immune response of the calf by challenging the immune system of the cow during gestation. The final project I will mention focuses on increasing the use of recycled nutrients from manure to reduce fertilizer inputs to grazing systems and potential environmental risks. This project is in collaboration with faculty at the Range Cattle and North Florida Research and Education Centers.
The focus of my extension program is to bring the results of my research to the cattle producers of Florida. In collaboration with county extension faculty, I am helping cattle producers improve nutritional management of their cow herd throughout the production cycle and find ways to increase profitability of their operation. My goal is to partner with cattle producers to find solutions to the challenges they have. Also, I am working to help producers understand new areas of research as they develop and assist them in implementing these practices on their operation so they can meet the food demand of a growing population.
Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. I look forward to working with the Florida cattlemen and cattlewomen. Please feel free to give me a call (863-735-1314) or stop by the research station if I can help.