Larry Cundiff has conducted genetic and breeding research that has contributed to significant changes in breeding systems and genetic improvement programs used in U.S. beef production. He directed a project that demonstrated the benefits of heterosis from systematic crossing of Herefords, Angus and Shorthorns increased output per cow about 23%. These results contributed significantly to widespread use of crossbred cows in U.S. beef herds.
Cundiff received his bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1961 at Kansas State University and his master’s and doctorate at Oklahoma State University in 1964 and 1966, respectively.
From 1965 to 1967, he was assistant professor of animal science at the University of Kentucky. In 1967 Cundiff joined the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of USDA as regional coordinator of beef cattle breeding research conducted by ARS and 11 land grant universities in the north central U.S. In 1976 he was appointed research leader of the Genetics and Breeding Research Unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC).
From 1975 until his retirement in 2007, he served as leader of a Germplasm Evaluation Program in which 36 breeds of cattle were characterized for a comprehensive series of traits of importance in beef production.
Cundiff has served as chairman of the BIF committee on genetic prediction and as the ARS, USDA representative on the BIF board of directors. He has received the BIF Service Award and BIF Pioneer Award, American Society of Animal Science Animal Breeding Award and Fellow Award, USDA-ARS Northern Plains Area Outstanding Scientist of the Year Award, USDA Superior Service Award and the American Polled Hereford Association Hall of Merit Award. Cundiff was recognized by BEEF magazine in 1989 as part of “25 who made a difference” and in 2004 as part of the “top 40” for contributions to the beef industry.
Ward says, “Dr. Cundiff’s work has allowed us to compare EPDs (expected progeny differences) across breeds and has shown the effects of crossbreeding. Also, the AHA used his work to help in the development of the $indexes. He has been and continues to be a true friend of the beef industry.”