Four luminaries of the beef cattle industry were recognized for their contributions to improving beef cattle genetics with the 2021 Beef Industry Pioneer Award.
The Pioneer awards recognize individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle. From work in validating DNA tests and livestock gene editing, to the development of real-time ultrasound technology for body composition evaluation, to practical application of data and genetic tools for seedstock customers, the 2021 class of BIF pioneers has left its mark on the industry.
For decades Galen Fink, Randolph, Kan., has adapted data and scientific methods from research labs to practical, real-world applications for his family’s Angus and Charolais seedstock operation, Fink Beef Genetics.
Balance and cow sense are the key drivers for the Fink program. The family has extensively used AI, embryo transplant and sexed semen, as well as cooperative herds in its quest to improve herd genetics. Ultimately, the Finks keep the future needs of the family’s seedstock customers in mind.
Alison Van Eenennaam, Davis, Calif., has spent a career helping cattle producers through her scientific research and scientific communication to the public. Her career has spanned both the private and public sectors, and today she is the Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis.
COMMUNICATION: Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotech, University of California, Davis, received the Beef Improvement Federation Pioneer Award from her colleague Matt Spangler, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor and Extension beef genetics specialist.
Van Eenennaam’s biotechnology lab provides research and education in the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems, specifically beef cattle. Currently, the lab is working on a project to introduce Angus gene sequences into the genome of dairy cattle to produce polled dairy cattle through gene editing.
Her science communication to the public through clever YouTube videos and her BioBeef Blog have also garnered her awards and the appreciation of the livestock industry.
Cattle producers who use ultrasound technology to evaluate their cattle can thank Gene Rouse, Huxley, Iowa, and Doyle Wilson, Boone, Iowa, for their work. Their collaborative research and development of real-time ultrasound technology to evaluate live cattle body composition, and applying it in real-world tools such as performance measurements and expected progeny differences (EPDs) has profoundly changed the beef industry.
ULTRASOUND: Gene Rouse (from left), Huxley, Iowa, and Doyle Wilson, Boone, Iowa, both experts in real-time ultrasound technology, received the Beef Improvement Federation Pioneer Award. Presenting the award is Scott Greiner, Extension beef specialist and professor at Virginia Tech.
Wilson and Rouse collaborated with the American Angus Association to develop the concept of centralized ultrasound processing. Through Iowa State University, the two hosted countless ultrasound technician trainings, workshops and certifications, further disseminating their tools and procedures. Today, using ultrasound as a decision-making tool for genetic improvement is widely accepted in the U.S. and around the globe.
The Beef Improvement Federation contributed to this article.