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Advanced Degree Graduate of Distinction

Advanced Degree Graduate of Distinction

Advanced Degree Graduate of Distinction Award Recipients 2018

This award recognizes those recipients with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Animal Science Department who have attained singular professional excellence in their field of Animal Agriculture. Mike Burge and David Weakley received this award in 2018.

Mike Burge, M.S.

Michael (Mike) L. Burge grew up on a family farm in the Texas Panhandle and attended school at Hollis, Oklahoma. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1982 and his Master of Science degree in 1985 from Oklahoma State University working with Dr. Don Wagner. Mike and his wife Kimberly (Kim) currently own Compass Nutrition, Inc., Greenshutter Properties, Tumbleweed Bar-B-Que and have cattle in Central Texas and the Texas Panhandle.

Mike started his career in 1985 as a management trainee with Bartlett Cattle Company in the Texas Panhandle. Through leadership, dedication and hard work he was promoted to staff nutritionist. He worked extensively on grain processing, and investigated the relationships of moisture, steam cabinet retention time and fl ake weights to starch availability and fermentation rates of corn, milo and wheat. He developed a quality control program to ensure consistency of processing and matched different starch fermentation rates to improve cattle performance. Mike moved to Southwest Kansas in 1988 to work as a beef feedyard consultant with Farr Better Feeds where he worked with over 20 feedyards, grow yards and backgrounding yards. Mike realized in 1991 there was great potential for applying feedyard technologies to dairies in the areas of rates of fermentation of grains and development of rations to improve conversions in dairy cattle. He moved to Central Texas in 1991 as a consulting dairy nutritionist with Farmland Industries. In recognition of the success of his innovative ideas, management philosophies and rations, Mike was promoted to the south region dairy manager responsible for managing 12 dairy consultants and dairy feed mill P&L in 6 southern states.

Mike founded Compass Nutrition, Inc. in 2000. Compass Nutrition has consultants working with clients in seven states and internationally, and based on number of cows is one of the largest independent consulting groups in the country. Compass Nutrition, Inc. is recognized nationally and internationally as an industry leader in providing cutting edge technologies and innovative ideas to economically improve cow health, production, reproduction and ultimately dairy profi tability. Mike has continued to consult with dairies in the United States (Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico) and internationally (India, China, Morocco and Mexico). He is recognized as one of the best in the industry for his work in transition cow rations and management. He was one of the fi rst in the dairy industry to start evaluating energy corrected milk conversions (lbs. of dry matter feed to produce 1 lb. of milk with 3.5% fat and 3.0% protein) and he developed feeding and management strategies to improve conversions. The energy corrected milk conversions calculated daily at his clients are one of the best early performance and fi nancial indicators available.

Mike was elected and served as the vice-president and president of the Texas Animal Nutrition Council. He has also served on Texas Cattle Feeder Association’s research committee. Compass Nutrition funded an Endowed Scholarship in 2008 at Oklahoma State University for animal science students.

Mike, Kim and step-son Gage reside on their ranch in Nazareth, Texas. They also have a son Stephen (MBA Tarleton State University) and daughter Susan (B.S. Oklahoma State)

David Weakley, Ph.D.

Dr. David Weakley was raised on a cow-calf operation near Pryor, Oklahoma. He received a B.S. degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University, followed by an M.S. degree in Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1983, he earned a Ph.D. degree in Animal Nutrition, with an emphasis in biochemistry, from Oklahoma State University, working under the direction of Dr. Fred Owens. Dr. Weakley’s graduate work concentrated on factors infl uencing ingredient protein breakdown and microbial protein synthesis in the rumen of multi-cannulated ruminants.

After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Weakley went to work for the Ralston Purina Company, and established a program studying the metabolic effects of digested dietary nutrients on ruminant production parameters in both dairy and beef cattle. In 1998, he became Director of Dairy Research for Purina Mills, with additional responsibilities for the Land O’Lakes Purina Feed Dairy Research program in 2002. During this time, Weakley managed research efforts leading to numerous products and feeding programs developed from a greater understanding of the metabolism of protein, starch, fi ber and fats in dairy cattle. His research also helped create metabolizable energy and metabolizable protein systems for balancing dairy cattle rations with greater accuracy and improved effi ciency of nutrient use. These systems are still in use today and were deployed during a time when much of the dairy industry was still balancing rations with crude protein and TDN.

In 2010, Weakley was appointed Director of Dairy Forage Nutrition Research for Forage Genetics International, a division of Land O’Lakes, developing advanced feeding and forage formulation algorithms for Calibrate Technologies. These patented and patent-pending technologies use in-vitro digestibility measurements of dietary carbohydrate fractions to better control intake and digestibility, leading to improved production or productive effi ciency. Another portion of Weakley’s work provided animal nutritional research support for novel forages, including reduced lignin alfalfa, developed by a consortium including Forage Genetics, the Noble Research Institute, the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, and other research collaborators.

During his working career, Weakley has designed over 400 experiments, and managed the teams that executed them to completion. These experiments have led to the granting of 12 patents, with others pending, covering numerous technologies that are still practiced in the industry today. Dr. Weakley is a member of the Stakeholder’s Advisory Board to the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

Dr. Weakley and his wife, Janice, live near St. Louis, MO and have one grown child, Eric.

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