Penn State extension beef cattle specialist receives dairy innovator award

Tara Felix made contributions to the dairy and beef industries
calendar icon 22 February 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Tara Felix, associate professor of animal science in the College of Agricultural Sciences and beef cattle specialist with Penn State Extension, recently received the Pennsylvania Dairy Innovator Award from the Center for Dairy Excellence, according to a press release from Penn State University.

Felix was honoured for conducting novel research and making contributions to both the dairy and beef industries in Pennsylvania. Her work is centered on providing the most favourable genetics and nutrition for beef-Holstein crossbreds.

In the dairy industry, cows must give birth to a calf — approximately once each year — to lactate and produce milk. Of these calves, only select females will be kept in the herd as replacements for milk production. The remaining females and all the male calves represent a significant supply of calves for the beef feeding/production market.

Felix said she strives to help dairy producers add value to their calves by breeding (by artificial insemination) dairy cows with semen from beef bulls to produce calves with beef characteristics that make them marketable to the beef industry. She also works to determine specific nutritional needs and dietary formulations that will result in optimal feed efficiency and growth rates in these crossbred calves.

“It is truly an honour to be recognized by the dairy industry for the work my lab has done over the past seven years on feeding dairy progeny for beef,” she said. “Most dairy animals eventually become beef, and I am glad to be recognized for assisting both the beef and dairy industries in Pennsylvania by conducting research that brings everyone to the table.”

Through her dairy and beef research and a Dairy-Beef Initiative, Felix has successfully supported several Extension programs, authored three popular press and four Extension articles, held 15 Extension meetings, given three invited presentations, and offered Ag Progress Days tours over four years at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Livestock Evaluation Center. Felix has shared her research with large groups across the country in states such as Michigan and South Dakota, and her research has even produced conversations in other countries like Saudi Arabia.

“Dr. Felix’s work related to finding ways to enhance the value of beef-sired progeny from dairy cattle has broad impact,” said Adele Turzillo, professor and head of the Department of Animal Science. “Through a wide range of projects, she has educated, collaborated with, and fostered new relationships among beef and dairy producers.”

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