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Education from the epicenter of the U.S. beef industry

Jan 13, 2015
University of NebraskaVisitors of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Science Complex are reminded that the leading objective of land grant institutions is instruction in agriculture and related sciences. The meats group has a long-standing tradition of adhering to excellence in education, research and extension, which is headed by seven professors: Drs. Donald Beermann, Dennis Burson, Chris Calkins, Steve Jones, Roger Mandigo (Emeritus), Ty Schmidt, and Gary Sullivan. Additionally, several professors within the department and across the university have backgrounds in meat science, including Drs. Bryan Reiling and Harsharvardhan Thippareddi.

The efforts of the professors are enhanced by the facilities available. A 28,400-square-foot, USDA-inspected meat laboratory gives students the opportunity to participate in the process from harvest to sales. The facilities include designated rooms for carcass fabrication, product manufacturing and processing. The analytical and sensory laboratories are equipped to conduct nearly all needed procedures and tests.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a strong research program that focuses on meat quality, food safety, the link between feedlot health and quality, processing methods, and novel ingredients. Recent work with muscle profiling has garnered international attention, as has efforts associated with the study of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC’s). Associations between animal behavior/temperament, animal health, and meat quality are ongoing, as are studies evaluating the effects of distillers grains and other feedstuffs on meat quality. Development of 3-D modules in bovine myology will provide educational tools with endless applications. The department is fortunate to have close working relationships with the livestock-producing industries in the state and nationally which helps aid in the research program.

Students have several unique opportunities while studying at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Course work includes 12 undergraduate classes and 4 graduate level courses. Additional courses were developed as required curriculum in the multi-disciplinary Meat CulinologyTM Certification program (a program of the Research Chefs Association). Soon, almost all undergraduate meat science courses will be available via distance education - allowing students from across the country and internationally to become Certified Meat CulinologistsTM. In addition, the Animal Science department has created a Beef Industry Scholars program, a 4-year curriculum with extra-curricular activities designed to acquaint beef students with leadership and knowledge. As Nebraska is now the no. 1 state for commercial red meat production, all cattle on feed, and commercial cattle slaughter. The state is also no. 2 for all cattle and calves, and is also no. 2 in total number of beef cows. Nebraska is the epicenter for beef in the U.S.

The meat science group offers several short courses and workshops to work the meats industry in the state throughout the year. The department also hosts several conferences and meetings annually that focus on various aspects and issues affecting the industry. In addition, the meats group participates in many youth education programs through hosting the 4-H and FFA competitions and events, as well as state and regional youth livestock shows.

Continued innovations and ideas help propel the meat science program into the future while retaining the goal of research, education, and extension.

 University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a member of the American Meat Science Association. For more information about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and its faculty, please visit the AMSA website at http://www.meatscience.org/page.aspx?id=63.

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