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Michael “Mike” MacNeil

February 17, 2017

Mike MacNeil, native of New York State, graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Agriculture in 1974. He then went to work for Dutchman Hereford Co. in Lauxmont, Pa., until returning to school at Montana State University, where he received a master’s degree in animal science in 1978. He then moved to South Dakota State University (SDSU) to begin work on his doctorate’s degree. In 1980 Mike left SDSU to join the University of Nebraska staff at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), Clay Center, Neb., as the experiment station statistician.

Mike was awarded his doctorate’s degree from SDSU in 1982 for his work on genetic antagonisms between sex-limited traits. In 1983 he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service at Clay Center. In 1989, Mike transferred from MARC to Ft. Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, Mont. Here he assumed responsibility for the Line 1 Hereford program.

Aspects of Mike’s research that have directly benefited the AHA include: 1) comprehensively and objectively characterizing Line 1 Hereford cattle; 2) facilitating dominate use of Line 1 Hereford cattle in bovine genomics; 3) developing profit indexes for the AHA; 4) estimating the economic value of heterosis; 5) developing guidelines for implementing crossbreeding systems; 6) identifying genetic antagonisms for carcass and maternal traits; 7) evaluating importance of cow families in performance of Hereford cattle; 8) identifying and evaluating new phenotypes for estimation of EPDs (including calving date, metabolizable energy intake of cows and ovulatory follicle size); 9) identifying quantitative trait loci for phenotypes of economic relevance to the beef industry and especially to Hereford breeders; 10) experimentally evaluating the genetic antagonism between birth weight and subsequent growth in Line 1 Hereford cattle; and 11) characterizing consequences of selection to reduce birth weight and increase yearling weight in increasing calving ease, production efficiency and carcass value.

“Dr. MacNeil has been a good friend and inspiration to me as well as many other livestock producers across America,” says Mark Cooper, Cooper Hereford Ranch, Willow Creek, Mont. “He has been a very influential voice for the American producer and is much deserving of this prestigious award.”

John Hough, vice president of Benyshek and Hough Consulting Services, adds, “Mike is one of only a few researchers who truly understands both research theory and its application in the livestock industry.”

Mike has authored, co-authored or edited more than 260 scientific and technical publications. These publications are frequently cited, and resulting technologies have been adopted by government agencies, livestock producers and beef cattle breed associations.

Mike somehow still has time to be active in his church and in the American Society of Animal Science, as well as other professional and civic organizations. He and his wife, Betty, make their home outside Miles City and are the parents of two children, Megan and Brendan.