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Looking Back: Sni-A-Bar Welcomes the USDA and Mizzou

by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society

E. A. Trowbridge, Dean and Director, University of Missouri College of Agriculture, in 1945 on the occasion of the ending of the Trust and the sale or the Farm said, “Creep feeding calves, work with various legume hays, methods of utilizing pastures, use of Atlas sorgo and building a great purebred herd of Shorthorns, all this work has been conducted in the 30-year period. Parties from this and foreign countries have made frequent visits to the Farm, with the intended result that information has been spread far and wide concerning activities there underway. In fact, the Farm has become a sort of shrine for those interested in agriculture and livestock production and improvement.”

In addition to the grading-up program, numerous other agricultural experiments were conducted at Sni-A- Bar throughout the 30 years of the Trust. Because the University of Oklahoma and the University of Kansas do not have an agricultural college, most of the research was conducted by students and professors from the University of Missouri and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The results of research conducted over a 30-year period have been printed in several books, University of Missouri pamphlets, and USDA bulletins, but for this writing I will only provide a summary of some of the more well know experiments: The second phase of the Farm, the show herd of purebred cattle was developed and became famous worldwide.

Steer calves from the upgrading demonstration were fed out to study market value using different feeding methods.

A practical method of feeding calves before weaning, known as creep feeding, where calves while still nursing had continual access to grain in an enclosure not available to larger cattle, was developed. Tests of the use of supplements to corn for fattening cattle, the comparative value of alfalfa, clover, lespedeza, and soy bean hay as roughage were carried out over a number of years.

In 1930 a field was seeded to lespedeza, the first use of the crop in the state of Missouri and contributed to the introduction of this crop for pasture and hay and revolutionized the grazing practice of the state.

Atlas sorgo as a silage crop was introduced. It produced 2 to 4 tons an acre more than corn and became the most widely used silage crop in the state. It was especially well suited to the drought in the late 1930s.

Beginning in 1929, many hybrid seed corns were developed at Sni-A -Bar by the University of Missouri.

Starting in 1936 a study of calf herd vaccination to control Bangs disease, or contagious abortion, was made at Sni-A-Bar by the Bureau of Animal Industry, Washington, D. C.

At various times, swine, sheep and Missouri mules were brought to the farm for countless studies.

Sni-A-Bar was visited by livestock men from every state and all foreign countries where livestock was a dominant industry to study the practices in operation. Instructors for livestock judging teams used the Farm and facilities for their students. Likewise, county agents and vocational agriculture teachers brought students and delegations of farmers to study the methods of livestock production, management of crops and use of crops for feeding.

Prominent breeders and government official from foreign countries were frequent visitors. Finally, the USDA, the National Livestock Record Association and the National Research Councils used the facilities for presentation of information to special groups interested in the betterment of agriculture.

Next week learn about the famous Sni-A -Bar Show Cattle.