AMES, Iowa -- Growing up on an Indiana diversified crop and livestock farm and having the opportunity to become involved in the beef industry early in his life helped create Patrick Gunn’s passion. Showing cattle and being actively involved in 4-H and state junior beef associations shaped the passion. Undergraduate and graduate work with utilization of biofuel byproducts in beef cattle diets while maintaining those ties with the cattle associations strengthened the passion. And now as the new cow-calf specialist at Iowa State University, he’s embarking on a career that will allow that passion to flourish.
“Even prior to college, I had the ultimate goal of fostering a career that would allow me to work with beef producers on a daily basis, and assist those producers in making management decisions that would increase both productivity and profitability,” Gunn said. “And, although I am confident in my abilities, I know that the trust of a producer can only be earned over time, so I plan to utilize our network of experts both on campus and across the state to efficiently and effectively answer the questions presented by producers.”
Gunn, who joined the Iowa State University animal science department faculty earlier this month, said his appointment is 60 percent extension, 25 percent applied research and 15 percent teaching. His first priority is to meet with as many beef producers on a face-to-face basis as possible.
“I plan to spend a lot of time listening to the needs and views of producers around Iowa so I can help develop extension programming which not only addresses current needs, but also anticipates future needs of the cow-calf sector,” Gunn said. “I’m a firm believer in personal contact with producers, and while I’m comfortable in our technology-driven world, I plan to use a variety of platforms to effectively communicate with producers and partners across the Midwest.”
Gunn’s primary research focus is on nutrition and reproduction, including interaction between the two areas. With continued volatility in commodity markets, producers are looking for ways to reduce feed costs while maintaining productivity and herd health. In many instances, this involves the use of byproduct feeds in heifer and bull development rations as well as wintering cow rations, he said.
“While a great deal of data have been generated regarding how byproduct feeds impact feedlot production, the effect of these feedstuffs on reproduction and fertility is not as well understood. Plus, we now know that maternal nutrition during gestation and lactation can alter growth and development of the offspring, thus affecting potential profit for years to come,” he said. “So it’s imperative that we are attentive to how new and alternative management schemes affect the cow and her offspring.”
Gunn also plans to work with estrous synchronization schemes for heifers and cows, determining how to alter existing protocols to incur less labor and lower costs for producers without negatively impacting pregnancy rates.
He said the choice to accept this faculty position at Iowa State was easy.
“Getting the opportunity to work in a state that is as agriculturally minded as Iowa is exciting. Moreover, the opportunity to work with producers that are as passionate about the beef industry as those in this state was an opportunity I could not pass up,” he said. “The Iowa Beef Center comprises a talented and well-rounded group of individuals who each bring their own strengths to the table, and at the same time complement each other so that most any beef-related question should be able to be effectively addressed.”
Gunn welcomes presentation requests, research suggestions and invitations to meet with individuals and groups. Contact him by phone at 515-294-3020 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set an appointment or check on his availability.