George Perry, Ph.D., was recently hired as a Texas A&M AgriLife Research cattle physiologist and associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Animal Science.
Perry said he was excited to join AgriLife Research at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton. He said he looks forward to producing research that will directly impact the beef cattle industry in Texas and the southern U.S.
Decades of cattle physiology research data at the Overton center will speed his transition and help him begin work on his research objectives immediately, he said.
“There’s tremendous opportunity here,” he said. “With the existing research herd and historic physiological data, it will give me a jump start on past performance, and I am looking forward to getting the ball rolling.”
Beef cattle reproduction research
Perry’s research focuses on reproduction efficiency in beef cattle on both the male and female side in areas like male and female fertility, sperm transport, early breeding and early calf development.
Studying reproductive physiology is important in beef cattle herds because weeks and months lost to ineffective natural or artificial breeding can cost producers a calf, and possibly more over several breeding seasons.
Perry said his goal is to identify physiological traits in male and female cattle that increase the likelihood animals are bred as early and efficiently as possible.
For instance, producers want to know more about replacement heifers, and the focus is typically on early conceptions, Perry said. The research herd will allow him to track the physiological impact when heifers reach puberty and give insights into conception rates this season and beyond through multiple generations.
Regarding bulls, Perry said he will look at sperm transport and how males contribute to breeding efficiency.
“Whether it’s natural or AI, females’ reproductive systems are designed to sort sperm for the best quality to reach the fertilization spot,” he said. “But we know sperm do more than just bring male DNA into the equation. It can also have an impact on the early stages of embryonic development and survivability.”
Background and experience
Perry was a faculty member and beef reproduction Extension specialist in the animal science department at South Dakota State University for 17 years. His research efforts there focused on factors that influenced reproductive efficiency, pregnancy success and embryo mortality.
Some of his current research has focused on understanding why variations occur between herds, the impact of vaccination on reproductive success, and factors impacting sperm longevity.
Charles Long, Ph.D., director of the AgriLife center in Overton, said Perry’s education and research background and experience made him the right choice for the position. He said Perry’s hire also adds an element of continuity with related research ongoing at the center.
“At the end of the day, we think he is positioned to make positive research impacts on the beef cattle industry in Texas and the southeastern U.S.,” Long said. “We expect his work to influence how breeding programs for tropical breeds like Brahman, and other established breeds, are maintained in a way that maximizes productivity.”
Perry was raised on a small cattle operation in Giddings. He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M and his master’s and doctoral degrees in reproductive physiology from the University of Missouri. A large portion of his doctoral research was conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture research station in Miles City, Montana.
Perry has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences on reproductive efficiency in beef cattle and has published numerous manuscripts on reproductive efficiency through his research program.