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Award Winners

June 19, 2014

For more information contact:
Joe Cassady, executive director, Beef Improvement Federation, South Dakota State University; 605-688-5165; www.BIFconference.com; www.beefimprovement.org

For a high-resolution photo of the winner, click here.


Merlyn Nielsen Honored
With BIF Pioneer Award

LINCOLN, Neb.  (June 19, 2014) — The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Merlyn Nielsen with the Pioneer Award during the organization’s 46th Annual Meeting and Research Symposium in Lincoln, Neb., June 18-21. The award recognizes individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle, honoring those who have had a major role in acceptance of performance reporting and documentation as the primary means to make genetic change in beef cattle.

Merlyn Nielsen

Merlyn Nielsen (left), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, receives a Beef Improvement Federation Pioneer Award from Steve Whitmire, 2013-2014 BIF president. Nielsen received the honor during an awards luncheon at the organization’s 46th research symposium and annual meeting hosted June 18-21 in Lincoln, Neb.

Nielsen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), and both a master’s degree and doctorate at Iowa State University under the direction of Dr. Richard Willham. Nielsen’s early research developed procedures to predict breeding values in beef cattle, and he wrote the computer programs used in the first national sire evaluation.

Utilizing an experimental population at UNL, Nielsen clearly demonstrated the economic efficiencies that could be gained by selecting for lower levels of milk production in a beef enterprise.

Over the years, Nielsen’s research interests changed to mice, focusing on reproductive performance, survival and efficiency. With selection for high and low heat production in mice as a proxy measure of energy for maintenance, Nielsen demonstrated that genetic variation for maintenance energy requirements exists. Although this was done in a model species, it undoubtedly shaped research directions in beef cattle, greatly advancing basic knowledge of genetic control of heat production, feed intake for maintenance and associations with production traits.

Nielsen has been instrumental in helping form the BIF guidelines for feed intake recording, and led the BIF task force for guidelines on use of this information in national cattle evaluation.

Nielsen is currently the Kermit Wagner Professor in the UNL Animal Science Department, specializing in quantitative genetics. He has published more than 100 refereed papers and has proven to be an excellent teacher and collaborator.

Nielsen is married to Elaine, and they have two children, Erin and Brian.

He was presented the BIF Pioneer Award at a luncheon Thursday, June 19. Also receiving Pioneer Awards were Gary Bennett of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Neb., and Earlham, Iowa, cattleman Steve Radakovich.

For more information about this year’s symposium, including additional award winners and coverage of the meeting and tours, visit www.BIFconference.com. For more information about the BIF organization, visit www.beefimprovement.org.


About BIF:

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) is an organization dedicated to coordinating all segments of the beef industry — from researchers and producers to retailers — in an effort to improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of beef production. The organization was initiated almost 70 years ago to encourage the use of objective measurements to evaluate beef cattle. Continuing the tradition, BIF is now the clearinghouse for developing standardized programs and methodologies for recording of performance data for all traits, from birth weights to carcass traits. Its three-leaf-clover logo symbolizes the link between industry, extension and research.

About www.BIFconference.com:

The www.BIFconference.com website is an event coverage site compiled by the Angus Journal staff as a service to its subscribers and the beef industry at large. The Angus Journal’s coverage of this event is made possible through the collaboration of BIF; host organizations including the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, and the Nebraska Cattlemen; and LiveAuctions.tv, which provided live-streaming video during the event and video for archival purposes. The Angus Journal encourages reprinting of the articles by those who adhere to the reprint guidelines available on the site.

About Angus Journal:

The Angus Journal is the flagship publication of the American Angus Association and a primary means of communication with its membership. Published 12 times each year, the magazine communicates important information about Association programs and services; reports news from shows, events and sales; and provides production, marketing and management information that seedstock breeders need to be successful. The publication also serves an effective vehicle for producers to use in marketing their herds to other members around the country. Advertisements are offered in a variety of sizes at rates to match most budgets, and a creative staff is available to help design an eye-catching layout.


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