Eight University of California research and outreach projects to address beef cattle and rangeland management issues have been funded through the Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment.

The projects address water quality, reproduction, animal welfare, greenhouse gases, weed control, and extending knowledge. The endowment is administered through the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES). Priorities are established by an advisory committee comprised of range cattle industry representatives and UC academics.

“The goal of this program is to promote collaboration and strengthen the continuum between range cattle producers, Cooperative Extension specialists and other research faculty, and county-based Cooperative Extension advisors,” said DeeDee Kitterman, CA&ES executive director of research and outreach. “Ultimately, this helps provide practical answers to critical issues and challenges facing the industry.”

Funding has been made available for this problem-solving research and outreach by endowment earnings from a gift to the university from the estate of Russell Rustici, a Lake County cattle rancher who passed away in 2008.

“Mr. Rustici worked closely with our scientists for many years,” said Neal Van Alfen, CA&ES dean. “His legacy is an enduring commitment to university research that will help us address issues of concern to the California cattle industry for a long time to come.”

This is the first year grant awards are being conferred to UC researchers through an annual competitive process. Grants for this year’s projects totaled more than $339,400. Three of the projects may receive second-year funding totaling nearly $105,000. Projects and lead researchers include:

  • Statewide coordination of scientific research information regarding livestock grazing and microbial water quality (Edward R. Atwill, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Effects of road transport on physiological stress and pathogen shedding in adult beef cows (Xunde Li, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, UC Davis)
  • Development and testing of a recombinant heat shock protein vaccine for epizootic bovine abortion, commonly known as “foothill abortion” (Jeffrey Stott, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
  • A new producer-friendly tool to diagnose bovine respiratory disease virus infections (Beate Crossley, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, UC Davis)
  • Coordinated electronic extension of research-based information to cattlemen (Glenn Nader, UC Cooperative Extension, Yuba/Sutter/Butte counties)
  • Testing of new management tools for controlling medusahead (a rangeland weed) in California  (Josh Davy, UC Cooperative Extension, Tehama/Glenn/Colusa counties)
  • Evaluation and validation of a PCR assay to detect Tritrichomonas foetus (trichomoniasis pathogen) in modified media (Kristin Clothier, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, UC Davis)
  • Beef cattle welfare: assessment of pain relief and healing after hot-iron branding and castration (Cassandra Tucker, UC Davis Department of Animal Science)

For additional information about these research projects, please contact DeeDee Kitterman, (530) 752-9484, dmkitterman@ucdavis.edu.