"The mission of the university, which is the mission of the college of Ag, which is the mission of the animal science department is a three-pronged approach," said Barney Wilborn, manager of the meats lab. "Research, teaching and extension. That's us."
But, the name "meats lab" may raise flags for some customers.
It might bring to mind crazed professors sporting needles filled with unauthorized medications poking them into helpless cattle.
"That's just not it at all," Wilborn said about common misconceptions of the meats lab.
The lab, located at 500 Chug Jordan Parkway, is mainly an environment for teaching. Although faculty do conduct research, it may not be as crazy as some might assume.
"Alot of [the research] we do is comparing raising cattle on grass and forage systems compared to grain based systems," Wilborn said.
And if their own good intentions aren't enough to ensure their customer's trust, the facilities are carefully watched by the USDA.
"We have a USDA inspector that's here every day," Wilborn said, "and he doesnt work for us. He works for the taxpayer."
The meats lab is comprised of a state of the art demonstration kitchen, classrooms and even a large stadium style room that holds up to 120 students. All which maintain the low temperatures required to ensure its safety, according to the department's website
"Doing the work is very expensive," Wilborn said. "It would not make sense to use these animals for teaching and then waste them."
Because of their waste-not-want-not way of thinking, the unit is able to support itself largely on it's own.
"It's not a hundred percent self-supporting," Wilborn said. "We get assistance in the form of utilities and some of our salaries."
The retail sales room has a range of products from pork to beef to chicken. Eggs are sold by the 2-and-a-half dozen for $2.73.
The meats lab even works with customers who may need to special order bulk meat for a party, such as the ever-popular tailgate.
But, according to Wilborn the most popular item is the bacon.
"The way that we make bacon is still kind of the old way to make bacon," Wilborn said.
They dry-cure it by hand and then smoke it. And they don't press it like commercial companies do. They cut it just the way it is.
For more information about prices and products sold at the meats lab, visit their website
or click here
for a list.