CSU professors honored at 50th annual Beef Improvement Federation symposium

The 50th Beef Improvement Federation symposium

Colorado State University Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences Tim Holt and Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences Scott Speidel were honored at the 50th anniversary meeting of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF), recently held in Loveland, Colo. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Livestock Association and CSU hosted the annual meeting and research symposium.

CSU Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences Tim Holt receives the BIF Pioneer Award.
CSU Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences Tim Holt receives the BIF Pioneer Award.

Holt honored with Pioneer Award

Dr. Holt received the BIF Pioneer Award, which recognizes individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle, honoring those who have had a major role in the acceptance of performance reporting and documentation as the primary means to make a genetic change in beef cattle.

One of the challenges for beef producers in the western United States is environmental adaptability, whether it be for heat, scarcity of forage or other challenges. For those raising cattle above 5,000 feet, one of the greatest challenges is resistance to High Mountain Disease (HMD) commonly called brisket disease.

Holt played a pivotal role in the development and delivery of a veterinary test that predicts susceptibility to pulmonary hypertension — the underlying cause of HMD. He received his DVM from Colorado State University in 1988. He performed his first Pulmonary Arterial Pressure test in early 1980 and has since collected more than 350,000 PAP observations.

Much of Holt’s data has served as the basis for heritability estimates at a multitude of elevations and more recently for the development of PAP Expected Progeny Differences and for identification of markers reducing susceptibility to HMD. Traveling more than 75,000 miles a year offering PAP measurement services from New Mexico to Montana, he is the key ranch expert for breeders and breeding programs across the region, providing advice, expertise, and approaches to reducing brisket disease and making genetic progress in high elevation herds.

Holt is currently contributing to the development of PAP measurement guidelines for the BIF, has developed a heart-scoring system to determine levels of pulmonary hypertension and heart tissue remodeling at harvest.

“Dr. Holt’s PAP efforts have taken him not only all over the western U.S., but to Ethiopia, Peru, and India,” said Mark Enns, BIF board member and Colorado State University professor of Animal Sciences. “His energy, enthusiasm and passion for helping high-altitude cattle producers is infectious as anyone who has worked with him will attest. In his role as associate professor in clinical sciences, he is training the next generation of veterinarians in appropriate measurement technique of PAP and generating enthusiasm for livestock production in the Rocky Mountains.”

Speidel honored with Continuing Service Award

Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences Scott Speidel receives the BIF Continuing Service Award.
Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences Scott Speidel receives the BIF Continuing Service Award.

Speidel was presented with a BIF Continuing Service Award. Continuing Service Award winners have made major contributions to the BIF organization, including serving on the board of directors, speaking at BIF conventions, working on BIF guidelines and other behind-the-scenes activities. As BIF is a volunteer organization, it is this contribution of time and passion for the beef cattle industry that moves BIF forward.

Speidel focuses his efforts on the genetic improvement of beef cattle. Fifty percent of his time is spent executing quantitative genetics research and service through CSU’s Center for Genetic Evaluation of Livestock (CGEL).

“Dr. Speidel not only conducts genetic evaluation of beef cattle, he also trains graduate students how to execute these important computational processes,” said Enns.

Speidel was employed and educated through the resources of CGEL for approximately a decade before he joined the faculty of CSU. He was involved in conducting genetic evaluation of beef cattle — approximately 10 million cattle twice a year for more than 20 clients — as well as research that improved genetic evaluations of many breed associations and breeding companies.

Speidel has helped write 43 research reports related to national cattle evaluation, which are in addition to 16 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. These efforts involved trait/topics such as stayability, heifer pregnancy, feed efficiency (residual feed intake), days to finish, multi-breed and genomics. Many of these efforts led to presentations at BIF meetings.

Speidel also serves on breed-improvement advisory committees for the Red Angus Association of America and American Gelbvieh Association.

Improving the industry

More than 600 beef producers, academia and industry representatives were in attendance at the organization’s 50th annual convention. BIF’s mission is to help improve the industry by promoting greater acceptance of beef cattle performance evaluation.

Several CSU faculty members and graduate students spoke at the BIF research symposium, including:

  • CSU Associate Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences James Pritchett welcomed attendees;
  • Professor Milt Thomas spoke about genomic approaches to improve grazing distribution;
  • Catie McVey, master’s degree candidate, spoke about laying the computational foundations of image analysis tools for application in livestock breeding;
  • Enns chaired the breakout session on efficiency and adaptability;
  • Holt spoke about understanding pulmonary hypertension in the context of arterial pressures;
  • Speidel spoke about the development and implementation of pulmonary arterial pressure;
  • and, Miranda Culbertson, Ph.D. candidate, spoke about approaches for evaluating the relationship between feedlot and pasture intake.

More information

In 1967 the idea for an organization to guide beef cattle performance recording and genetic improvement was originated and in 1968 the initial meeting of the Beef Improvement Federation was held in Colorado. This year’s meeting marked the golden anniversary of the inaugural event.

For more information about this year’s symposium, including additional award winners and coverage of the meeting and tours, visit BIFconference.com. For more information about BIF, visit Beefimprovement.org.