Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Distinguished professor, prolific researcher and respected livestock judge for beef and swine.
1935-2016 | Artist: Richard Steward Halstead (born 1947)
Impact & Accomplishments
Iowa-born Harlan Ritchie graduated from Iowa State University in 1956 and completed his doctorate at Michigan State University in 1964. While a graduate student, Ritchie served as part-time instructor and judging team coach. After a distinguished career in teaching, research, and beef cattle extension, he retired from the university as the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Animal Science.
Dr. Ritchie’s research has focused on swine and beef cattle improvement, beef cattle efficiency, beef cattle dystocia, enhanced carcass quality, and vertically coordinated beef production and marketing systems. A prolific writer, Ritchie has authored hundreds of scientific and trade journal articles and extension papers. He has officiated in the national shows of thirteen cattle breeds and seven swine breeds and has held positions in organizations including the Beef Improvement Federation, American Society of Animal Science, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Ritchie has been honored with numerous awards as well, including the Distinguished Faculty Award, the Golden Book Award from the American Simmental Association, and service awards from the National Pedigreed Livestock Council and the Beef Improvement Federation. In 2001, he received the Livestock Publications Council’s Headliner Award.
Did You Know?
Dr. Ritchie came to MSU in 1957 as an instructor as he pursued his doctorate. "I enjoyed my work so much that I never left," Dr. Ritchie wrote in a book entitled Breeds of beef and multi-purpose cattle, authored in 2009, "and (I) remained at Michigan State for my entire 47-year career in animal science." Typical of his attitude toward cattle, he wrote in that book "The legendary American humorist, Will Rogers, once said, 'I've never met a man I didn't like.' In this author's case, I've never met a breed of cattle I didn't like. Expressed another way, I believe that every breed of livestock has at least one valuable feature that is worth preserving."
"Harlan was a phenomenal educator," said his friend and business partner Ken Geuns, who worked with Dr. Ritchie at MSU and later in partnership on a beef cow-calf operation. "He had an incredible ability not only to have a thorough grasp of basic science, but to translate that into production-oriented information to students, Extension, and industry. He was highly sought after as an educator and to do programs and workshops throughout the state and the world."
Courtesy Angus TV