UNL Appoints Feedlot Nutrition and Management Specialist

UNL Appoints Feedlot Nutrition and Management Specialist

April 4, 2008 

Color of Dr. Judson Vasconcelos standing in front of a pen of livestock.
Dr. Judson Vasconcelos

Dr. Judson Vasconcelos has been appointed the feedlot nutrition and management specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, it was announced by Dr. Linda Boeckner, interim director of the Panhandle Center.

Vasconcelos will be responsible for conducting extension and research programs focused on efficiency, profitability, food safety and environmental aspects of feedlot cattle production in the central High Plains. He also will be faculty supervisor for the newly expanded Panhandle Research Feedlot at Scottsbluff, responsible for developing, funding and conducting research trials.

Vasconcelos, a Brazil native, received a degree in veterinary medicine in 1998 and spent several years working for an American nutrition company based in Brazil. Industry connections steered him to Texas, where he received a master's degree from West Texas A&M in 2004 and a doctorate from Texas A&M University in 2006. Both advanced degrees were in beef cattle nutrition with an emphasis in feedlot nutrition.

Vasconcelos completed his coursework at Texas A&M, but conducted research hundreds of miles to the northwest at Amarillo, in the Panhandle, the center of the state's cattle feeding industry. His post-doctorate research has been performed under the supervision of Mike Galyean, considered the leading feedlot nutritionist in the nation.

Vasconcelos said his Texas experience has left him with a number of published articles, good experience, and extensive contacts in the cattle feeding industry. One of his projects was conducting a survey in which he interviewed most of the nation's private feedlot consulting nutritionists about their nutritional recommendations. Results were published in the Journal of Animal Science and will be featured this spring in Beef Magazine.

At the Panhandle Center, Vasconcelos says his immediate goals are to network with consulting nutritionists to learn about research needs, then to align those needs to the capacities at the Panhandle Research Feedlot. He is interested in applied research that can be used in the real world. He said he is eager to visit with cattle feeders in the area, who can contact him at his office phone, 308-632-1397.

Among the projects planned will be trials on distillers grains, one of the products of ethanol plants. The research feedlot plans to use by-products from the ethanol plant under construction at Bridgeport.

Vasconcelos said he plans to cooperate extensively with faculty at UNL, which he said has the best feedlot nutrition program in the nation. He also expects to work with other universities in the High Plains region, and feedlots in the region.

The Panhandle Research Feedlot, bolstered by a $1 million expansion project dedicated in 2007, provides excellent capacities for research, Vasconcelos said. The number of pens, and the capacity of each pen, gives it the ability to conduct research that few other feedlots are able. And the ability to measure the water delivered to individual pens will be useful. One of his goals is to test the use of state-of-the art software to control everyday feed bunk management.

Vasconcelos said he has been interested in cattle production since visiting Brazilian ranches as a youth with friends. He comes from a part of Brazil with more cattle than anywhere else in the country. His home state is Mato Grosso do Sul, translated as "thick grass from the south." He said the Brazilian cattle industry is based on grass-fed animals.

The most critical issue facing U.S. cattle feeders is ethanol, he said. Ethanol's demand for corn has increased corn prices, and the industry's by-products have become widely used in feedlots.

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