The Ames Plantation breeding herd has both purebred registered Angus cattle and commercial Angus cattle (7/8 to 15/16 bloodlines) that are used in the research program. The herd is divided into fall and spring calving cows that produce calves for various research projects. New bloodlines are introduced via artificial insemination. The herd is both brucellosis and tuberculosis free. No growth implants are used with the herd. A vaccination program developed by UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine and our local veterinarian is administered in a timely fashion throughout the year.
Educational activities are varied and diverse. Undergraduates and graduate students from UT and surrounding colleges use the beef cattle herd and these facilities to further their specific interests. Senior students from UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine have received training via Ames Plantation beef cattle and horse herds since the beginning of that program in 1978. Senior students are in residence at Ames for a week, three times per year, obtaining valuable training before starting their own career in public service. Beef producers from around the country have visited Ames and received research updates that can be applied to their beef cattle operations.
Forage and pasture grazing research is highlighted at Ames Plantation utilizing the entire beef cattle herd (both fall and spring calving, registered and commercial Angus cows) to produce animals for grazing projects. The basic grazing research pastures (45 – 3 acre paddocks) were established from 1966 to 1979. These research paddocks are fenced with either net wire or hi-tensile electric fencing and contain freeze resistant waterers so that year-round comparisons can be made utilizing replicated pastures.
Presently, 18 three-acre paddocks are being used to compare various varieties of forages under grazing conditions. Comparisons of various stocking rates of steers grazing endophyte-infected fescues to endophyte-free fescues to the newly released “Persist” Orchardgrass are being evaluated by researchers from the UT’s Animal Science Department and staff at Ames Plantation.
New projects evaluating native warm season grasses, under grazing conditions in Tennessee, will be implemented within the next year. Average daily gain and total beef production will be some of the parameters measured in addition to stand adaptation and benefits to wildlife.