Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding Donates Southeastern Colorado Research Facility to Colorado State University

Colorado State University today announced that the research facility in Lamar owned by the Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding LLC feedyard has been donated to the College of Agricultural Sciences. The gift, valued at $2.5 million, establishes the Southeastern Colorado Research Center, which will become a powerhouse for animal food safety, nutrition, environmental impact and management research within the Department of Animal Sciences.

     The gift is the second largest in the department’s history. In addition to the research facility, the gift includes five-year funding for a professorship within the department to be located at the center. The university took possession of the center on June 1. The facility will be used by faculty and students to conduct research on a variety of cattle-industry related topics.

     "This gift provides our students with a unique opportunity for hands-on learning in a real-world setting," said Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley. "Partnerships such as this one — with businesses, industries and communities — are essential to our students’ success. Colorado State’s longstanding involvement with the state’s agricultural industry is a model of such partnerships, and this gift is a great tribute to that ongoing relationship."

     This facility provides the university with an increased opportunity for discovery and education, said Bill Wailes, head of the Department of Animal Sciences. "The Southeastern Colorado Research Center will enhance our ability to provide relevant, up-to-date information to agricultural professionals and the feedlot industry across the state and nation. As well, students from Colorado State will gain a valuable opportunity to learn and conduct research in a realistic setting while benefiting from direct educational benefits through interaction with Five Rivers Cattle Feeding."

     The center, known as Continental Beef Research under ContiBeef, which recently merged to form Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding, will enhance the university’s research, outreach and education within the cattle and feedlot industry. At the center, regional and multi-state research will focus on integrated livestock management, environmental benefits and impacts of the industry, infectious disease management, pre-harvest food safety and product enhancement, animal nutrition, waste management and pharmaceutical studies. This will enhance the university’s market-driven research, expanded outreach education efforts to include more business-related topics and increase communication and coordination among industry groups and agencies, as well as support ranchers in southeast Colorado.

     "I am pleased with the confidence shown by Five Rivers Ranch in the research and education programs at Colorado State University in support of the beef industry," said Marc Johnson, vice provost for agriculture and outreach and dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "Beef is the largest agricultural industry in the state, and Colorado State serves as a knowledge partner for various aspects of production and agribusiness in the industry. With this gift, Five Rivers Ranch has made a significant investment in public information for the meat industry."

     In May, Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding was formed as a new stand-alone joint-venture, and Five Rivers consists of six feedyards previously owned by ContiBeef and four feedyards previously owned by MF Cattle Feeding, a subsidiary of Smithfield Beef Group. Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding has 10 feedyards in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Idaho and Kansas.

     The Southeastern Colorado Research Center, the university’s new name for the facility, comprises nearly 15 acres and will hold about 1,500 head of cattle. Through a partnership and operating agreement, Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding will provide cattle for research purposes for a minimum of five years and will supply feed and supplements to meet their nutritional needs. The operating agreement also provides the university with a daily per-animal fee for animal care.

     "We are excited to work with Colorado State University in this endeavor," said Mike Thoren, CEO of Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding. "This transaction will allow Five Rivers and Colorado State to expand upon their ongoing commitments of conducting quality research and providing sound solutions for the opportunities and challenges of the beef industry."

     The five-year funding for the on-site professor can be renewed for an additional five years under the current agreement. The position will be occupied by John Wagner, an animal nutrition expert who has managed the Lamar research center for more than 10 years.  Wagner has a doctorial degree in ruminant nutrition. The feedyard has been a location for research conducted by ContiBeef.

     Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Sciences has a national reputation for excellence in livestock-industry research, including livestock facility design, food safety and agricultural management.