OMAHA, NEBRASKA, US — More than 150 Nebraska beef industry leaders gathered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Eastern Research, Extension and Education Center near Mead, Nebraska, US, on Nov. 4 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new $7.2 million Feedlot Innovation Center.

Featuring a complex with cattle comfort and research buildings, a feed technology facility, innovative open lots and an animal handling facility, the Feedlot Innovation Center will serve as a testbed for new and emerging technologies. Industry partners, ag-tech startups, producers and others can use the facility’s capabilities as a proving ground for new products.

The facility will include commercial-scale open air and covered pens, allowing researchers to improve cattle performance and environmental impact in varied settings. It will also include a 240-head feeding facility that will allow researchers to use precision techniques to study the outcomes of various feeding protocols, measure emissions and study the various uses for precision feeding technology already on the market.

The center will allow for expanded research of the impact of low-stress animal handling and increased emphasis on animal welfare. A new cattle handling facility and enclosed classroom will give students hands-on experience and allow for training opportunities for Nebraska’s beef industry workforce.

Doug Zalesk, director of the Extension Center, said the new center will be “a very unique facility in terms of the types of research we can do.”

Students will get hands-on experience while immersed in the newest research and technology at the commercial-scale feedlot.

With an estimated cost of $7.2 million, funding for the Feedlot Innovation Center is ongoing. The university has received support from JBS USA, which donated $700,000 toward the center. Greater Omaha Packing Co. also gifted $700,000, and in recognition, the university will name the center’s animal handling and instructional classroom building after the company. 

Pending the approval of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, the facility will be named the Klosterman Feedlot Innovation Center, in honor of John and Beth Klosterman of David City, who are longtime supporters of both the university and its Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and who gave $500,000 toward the project.