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Herds and Flocks

Posted: December 21, 2011

Beef production sale and recognition for the horse herd

Beef

The production sale of 76 head of Penn State Angus cattle marking the 100th anniversary of the department’s Angus herd was held at the Beef-Sheep Center on October 21st. More than 200 people attended the sale; buyers were from six states. The sale grossed $160,150, for an average price of $2,107 per head. Nearly half of the cattle were recently-weaned heifer and bull calves, indicating the demand for cattle being produced in the breeding program at the farm led by Wendall Landis. The high selling lot was the Lot 1 heifer calf that sold for $4,500 to McKean Brothers Angus Farm in Mercer - former students in the Department. No lot sold for less than $1,300. The 27 students enrolled in the livestock marketing course participated in the preparation of animals and production of the sale. These students did an excellent job representing the Department and Penn State.

Horse

The American Quarter Horse Association recognized the Pennsylvania State University with its Legacy award in October at its Breeder Recognition dinner at the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, TX. The award honors those who have registered at least one foal for 50 consecutive years. Terry Etherton noted that the program began in 1955 when the American Quarter Horse became the breed of choice for departmental emphasis.

The American Quarter Horse was selected, in part, because of its popularity in Pennsylvania and because livestock judging contests replaced draft horses with Quarter Horses.

The era of the Quarter Horse began with the purchase of the stallion Sorrel Chief purchased as a yearling from Michigan State University. Two mares, Akins Shirley and WMD Orphan Annie, became the foundation broodmares in the breeding program.

The herd usually includes three to five stallions and 12 to 20 mares, all used in teaching, research and extension programs. Undergraduate research programs using the herd currently emphasize nutrition, growth and development. Extension programs utilize the horses to reach both youth and adults in a variety of areas related to management, ownership, and handling of horses.  Courses emphasize farm management, reproduction, marketing, training and nutrition.

Stallions stand to outside mares with both on-farm breeding and cooled semen available. Most offspring are maintained until they are two years old, and then used in the handling and training course before being marketed through the student run-sale in late April.

Penn State’s reknown as a leading breeder was solidified when they purchased the palomino Quarter Horse stallion Skip Sioux in 1971. Skip Sioux sired 255 AQHA registered foals; 66 of which went on to be point earners. In 1982, Penn State was the sixth leading breeder of halter class winners due to Skip’s success as a sire, marking the first time a University was ranked as a leading breeder.  Penn State earned this distinction several times in several categories throughout the early 1980’s.  More information about the history of horses at Penn State can be found at: http://www.das.psu.edu/about/history.

Donations of outstanding horses over the years have been extremely important in creating a herd that has proven useful in all aspects of the Penn State program. A great example of this is the stallion PSU Dynamic Krymsun, the result of a donated breeding to One Hot Krymsun for the superior Western Pleasure mare Dynamic Zippo. This young stallion’s foals are already proving beneficial to the herd. These recent donations will allow the herd to continue its success into the future.