BROOKINGS, S.D. — Two South Dakota State University graduate students placed in the top four at the recent Plains Nutrition Council Spring Conference Graduate Student Poster Contest.

The Plains Nutrition Council is an educational and professional organization for those who work and serve as livestock feeding nutritionists, nutritional consultants, research scientists and educators in livestock science. Seven students and their research projects were selected from 32 submitted posters to present their research via video conference. Two of the SDSU graduate students, Warren Rusche, Ph.D. student and SDSU Extension beef feedlot management associate, and Ellie Buckhaus, master’s student, were selected to present their research. Rusche placed first and Buckhaus placed fourth in the competition.

Prior to the contest, Rusche and Buckhaus spent eight to twelve months researching their topics. Their research results will be used to formulate recommendations that can be used by beef cattle producers in the northern plains.

Rusche presented his research on the replacement of corn with a rye hybrid in finishing diets fed to beef steers and the impact on growth performance and carcass traits. Since rye is traditionally low-yielding, it is not typically used as a feed grain. Rusche used a hybrid rye produced by KWS Cereals USA LLC. Rusche’s experiment was set up to see how well the hybrid rye would do when replacing corn in finishing cattle diets. This idea was tested by feeding four different diets, all with a different portion of the corn replaced with hybrid rye. Rusche found that the hybrid rye was most efficient when it replaced one-third of the corn. There were no significant changes in carcass traits. This research is the first data presented on hybrid rye in cattle diets in North America.

Buckhaus’ research investigated corn silage hybrid and inclusion level in finishing steer diets and how these factors impact growth performance, carcass traits and beef production per acre of cropland.

“An entire year of early mornings weighing, sorting, feeding, and processing cattle, as well as many late nights conducting laboratory assays and analyzing statistics within our small team was generously rewarded at the PNC poster competition,” said Zachary Smith, principal investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science. “It will go down as an outstanding day of recognition for our feedlot research team, the South Dakota Ag experiment station, SDSU and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.”