Day set to lead UW Animal Science into the futureWritten by Saige Albert
Laramie – This spring, the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Animal Science Department took the step to hire Mike Day as its department head – a move that many at UW are excited about.
“We are excited to have Mike join the Animal Science Department,” says Warrie Means, interim department head. “There are so many things about Mike that I really like, and we’re looking forward to having him here.”
Day will begin at UW on July 31 and will be available at the Wyoming State Fair on Aug. 10.
A life in agriculture
Day was raised in central Missouri on a beef cattle farm.
“I guess I could say I’m a ‘second generation’ professor, since my dad was a swine reproductive physiologist at the University of Missouri,” says Day.
Day earned a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from the University of Missouri and then attended the University of Nebraska to earn a master's and Ph.D. in beef cattle reproduction.
“I was in Nebraska from 1980-85 and then started at The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1985,” he says.
Since 1985, Day has been a professor in the Animal Sciences Department at OSU, teaching mainly in beef cattle production and introductory animal sciences and doing research in beef cattle reproduction.
“Overall our research program has been aimed at improving reproductive efficiency of beef cattle,” Day explains. “The areas we concentrated on are puberty and replacement heifer development, factors that limit conception rate and early embryo mortality, and estrus synchronization.”
In the course of these research efforts, Day trained several graduate students who are now working at universities and in the industry in cattle reproduction.
“We studied how to get heifers bred early in their first season and how to improve pregnancy rates in postpartum cows,” he continues. “In addition, our group developed the 5-d CO-Synch + CIDR program that is recommended for timed artificial insemination (AI) in beef cattle.”
This year, Day received the 2015 Animal Physiology and Endocrinology Award from the American Society of Animal Science in recognition of his years of work.
During his time at OSU, Day and his wife Toni also had a small crossbred cowherd.
“We lived what we enjoy with the beef cattle herd,” he says.
With nearly 30 years of teaching, research and extension experience at OSU, Day made the decision to move to Wyoming to lead the UW Animal Science Department.
Moving to Wyoming
In making the move to Wyoming, Day comments that the decision had both professional and personal components.
“From a personal perspective, my wife and I both grew up west of Ohio, and this was a good opportunity to move back West,” Day says.
At the same time, Laramie provides the chance to move to and work in a smaller community and enjoy the lifestyle that accompanies it.
“The Ohio State University is located in Columbus, Ohio, with over 1 million people” he says. “Although we did not live in Columbus, we’re looking forward to moving to Laramie and working at UW.”
On a professional level, Day notes that his past experiences with the University of Wyoming and its faculty members made UW a very attractive option when this position became available.
“I knew some of the people at the University of Wyoming, and I knew they had a good program and some exciting things happening,” he explains. “Some of the people I knew at UW had been there for a while, and it was obvious that UW was a good place to work.”
“I felt UW was a good fit for my interests and background with the beef cattle and sheep industries in Wyoming,” Day says. “There were many professional and personal factors that influenced the decision to come to Wyoming.”
“I’m really excited to get to know the faculty, students and stakeholders at UW better and to explore the possibilities for the future,” Day says. “I’m looking forward to working with those groups and helping to build on the current success of the department to make it even stronger.”
Day mentioned that during the interview process, he really enjoyed meeting with the students, faculty and staff at UW and is excited to learn more. He was also impressed with the college and university administrators he visited and their obvious support of the Department of Animal Science.
“I really want to concentrate my efforts on building the teaching research and Extension programs within the department and strengthening our relationships with producers and industries within the state,” he says.
Support from within
While Day is looking forward to working at UW, Means also sees a positive future and is optimistic about Day’s arrival at UW.
“I’m really excited about Mike,” Means says. “He is a reproductive biologist and has done 30 years of research with beef cattle and reproduction. He understands livestock and the livestock industry.”
“Mike is good with people and has a good science background, and he is an educator,” he continues. “He also has some good ideas to lead our department into the future.”
Means also notes that with the many interfaces of a department – ranging from undergraduate education and graduate research to Extension and the scientific components – it is important to find a department head who understands all of those things, and Day fits that profile.
“He is also engrained in animal agriculture,” Means says. “We are really excited to have him join our team.”
“I feel like the Department of Animal Science is poised to grow even more and really do some great things,” Day emphasizes. “I am excited about that opportunity to help the department move forward.”