Jack Lemmon, M.S.
Education: Bachelor of Science in animal sciences and industry (August 2013)
Master of Science in animal sciences from Kansas State University
McNair Project: Evaluation of Dietary Botanical Composition of Beef Cows (2013)
Mentor: K.C. Olson, Ph.D.
Visual microhistology (VMH), a laborious and time-consuming process, is used to evaluate botanical composition of grazing-herbivore diets by visually identifying plant fragments in fecal material via microscopy. Less labor intensive means to assess botanical composition of herbivore diets are desirable. We evaluated hyper-spectral reflectance spectroscopy (HSRS) as an alternative that may be useful for identifying individual plant-species fragments in fecal material; moreover, it is easily automated, allowing more rapid estimation of dietary botanical composition than VMH. We used 5 non-pregnant, non-lactating, 4-year old beef cows in a 5 × 5 Latin-square experiment. Known blends of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and smooth bromegrass (Bromis inermis) were fed to each cow at 2.2% of BW daily in the following ratios : 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, and 0:100. Fecal samples were collected at the end of each of five 7-day feeding periods. Fecal samples will be analyzed via HSRS and VMH to compare predictive power of the two techniques.