The Butner Beef Cattle Field Laboratory is comprised of 1260 acres straddling the line between Granville and Durham Counties. As the name implies, here the research emphasis is cattle. And it is here that the Department of Animal Science conducts research in nutrition and physiology.
Research conducted here has had a positive economic impact on North Carolina cattle farming. For example, past projects have increased our knowledge of how various hormones affect animal growth.
Growth rate matters because a cow that grows more quickly may also mature more quickly; and the earlier cows mature, the earlier they can be bred. For a farmer, this acceleration in the breeding process means that less time and feed are required to produce superior quality, marketable beef cattle.
Feedmill silos at Butner Beef Cattle Field Laboratory
Similarly, our research identified more efficient forage management for cattle grazing: we demonstrated that practices such as strip grazing of stockpiled forages can reduce the need for dedicated hay production by allowing the cattle, effectively, to harvest the forage themselves.
We also conduct nutrition studies, which expand the understanding of beef cattle mineral requirements. It is now known, for example, that some trace minerals affect cattle immune systems and that, surprisingly, some breeds require more mineral supplements than others.
Finally, our research has helped to make North Carolina a leader in animal waste management practices, by turning byproducts into fertilizers and animal feed additives. This efficient use of previously discarded materials reduces landfill demand and provides innovative feed products for cattle farmers.