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Growth, Development, Muscle Biology and Meat Science Symposium Highlights by Kaitlyn Sommer, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign

The first speaker of the day was Dr. Bradly Johnson from Texas Tech University. Dr. Johnson presented on ‘Managing Beef Cattle Growth Amidst a Global Pandemic: Lessons learned from 2020 and strategies for the future’. His presentation showed that there have been a large number of changes that occurred in 2020 specifically occurring in feedlot nutrition and growth performance. One of the big things that are continuing into 2021 is producers deciding to not re-engage ractopamine into the diets and finding other ways to reach optimal performance. One of these possibilities can be utilizing a steroidal implant. A large take away from Dr. Johnson’s presentation is that although there is a pandemic, and these are trying times, don’t give up on technology and be more practical on the application of the technologies.

Dr. Nicolas Gabler from Iowa State University, presented on ‘Managing  Swine Supply and Swine Growth Amidst a Global Pandemic: Lessons learned from 2020 and strategies for the future’. Dr. Gabler spoke about two different studies that he conducted, that looked at slowing down growth in swine and then the potential of compensatory gain. The research showed that a corn-based diet is the more common options to reduce growth in swine due to a lower lysine content and being easier to implement and effective. Calcium Chloride is popular only when swine growth needs to be halted completely. Overall, the pandemic led to lessons learned in growth reduction strategies, academia and the pork industry working together, working fast and efficiently. These specific lessons can be utilized now, in the future, and if another pandemic occurs.

The last speaker of the day was Dr. J. Brad Morgan from Colorado State University, and he spoke on ‘Managing Meat Supply Amidst a Global Pandemic at the Packer, Food Industry, and Retail Level: lessons learned from 2020 and strategies for the future’. The pandemic in 2020, lead to a decrease in hotel jobs and stays and fine dining. But while these were affected negatively, some establishments such as casual dining, fast food, amazon, delivery services and more were able to thrive and start to slowly overcome the slight decrease of business during the pandemic. A major increase occurred in the pork, beef and poultry retail department, with a huge increase in dollar sales and volume sales.  What will come to stay though is curbside pickup, shopping locally, having food delivered, decreasing waste, and continuing to make their dining room the hottest new restaurant.

An unedited recording of the symposium can be found on the meeting website.