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A visit to the Marshfield ARS – Audio

IMG_9613at_parlorVisiting the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station
Nancy Esser
Research Program Manager
Superintendent of the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
University of Wisconsin- Madison
(715) 387-2523

Nancy Esser describes the new research going on at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, and how it benefits the agricultural community

Total Time: 3:33
0:19- Work done at the research station
0:34- The new research site
1:16- Working with the heifers
1:47- Limit feeding
2:24- Benefitting the agricultural community
3:15- Bedding Research
3:26- Lead Out


Sevie Kenyon: Nancy give us a little introduction to the type of work done here at the Marshfield Station.

Nancy Esser: Sevie the station is approximately 1,400 acres set between two sites. Our original south station is comprised of offices, laboratories, and an auditorium. The new site has grown substantially in the last ten years. We broke ground back in 2003. Since that time, between 2011, we acquired a milking herd. We’re at 660 animals strong. The kind of work that is taking place here at the station ranges from soil based research, agronomy; several agronomy trials that some are new some are in their third or fourth year, and our specialty. This site is a site among no others. This is a site in which we are the grower for the stat herd of heifers, and it is a premier institution for heifer-based research. We have 550 heifers on site in which multiple scientists use this herd to conduct their research.

Sevie Kenyon: Well Nancy, tell us a little bit about the heifers. What kind of work goes on with them?

Nancy Esser: We’re conducting intake trials with the heifers using gamagrass. There’s been extensive limit feeding studies. There’s been feeding trials. We’re using a eastern gamagrass, it’s a perennial grass that’s typically grown in the southern part of the United States. That has been introduced to northern climates. It’s been integrated into feeding trials with our heifers. There have been a couple years worth of research on that. We have also been the site of extensive limit feeding. Limit feeding is reducing the amount of forage in the heifers’ diet— offsetting it with concentrates to attain the nutrients the animal needs, the calories, protein that the animal needs, and allowing that animal to attain industry growth at calving that the industry expects. So by restrict feeding these animals, or limit feeding, we’re able to cut back on one of the most expensive commodities that are fed to the animals (that being forage) and still the animals are conditioned where we need them. They excrete less manure, and we can get them where we want them to be at calving.

Sevie Kenyon: And Nancy, how does this work benefit the agricultural community?

Nancy Esser: These are studies in which our scientists are taking into the communities. They are sharing during webinars; they are sharing with Herds Dairymen, Popular Farm Press. It’s also something that consultants are learning, and are able to take out into the farms, and share with their constituents.

Sevie Kenyon: What’s the most interesting part of your job?

Nancy Esser: The most interesting part of my job, I would have to say is a new research trial. I get very excited when I am presented with a protocol, and I very much enjoy setting them up, talking to staff about what things are going to happen on that trial, what are the needs of the trial, and what are the needs that the population of animals are going to be used, what unique pieces of information are going to be extracted from these animals.

Sevie Kenyon: Nancy can you give us an example of some of the research being done here?

Nancy Esser: We are in the process of analyzing four different bedding substrates used in our barn. Bedding substrates meaning different types of beddings that are used under the cows. What we’re looking at is are these appropriate beddings to use under animals.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Nancy Esser, Superintendent with the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.