Gifford had a long history of service to the animal sciences in the fields of teaching, research, extension and in the administration of these programs. He was an instructor of dairy husbandry at West Virginia University from 1922 to 1925; assistant professor of the Dairy Department at the University of Missouri from 1926 to 1934; marketing specialist at Agriculture Adjustment Service, USDA from 1934 to 1936; and extension dairyman of Agricultural Extension Service at the University of Missouri from 1936 to 1939.
Gifford was hired to be the head of the Department of Animal Industry and professor in that department in 1939. When he arrived there were only seven staff members in the department. The university’s cattle herds had brucellosis and had to be disposed of so he started everything from scratch. As head of the Department of Animal Industry he was responsible for the development of the university’s herds and flocks. The department was later enlarged and became the Department of Animal Industry and Veterinary Science. At the time of his retirement on June 30, 1964, there were 36 full-time staff members in the department.
Gifford’s research helped to dramatically improve livestock management in not only Arkansas but the United States. While at the university, Gifford initiated several research projects that have significantly contributed to livestock improvement. He initiated a beef cattle breeding project in 1939 to evaluate beef cattle performance. This work ultimately led to his participation in the South Region Beef Cattle Breeding Project, or S-10, during the 1950s. S-10 was a study conducted with the United States Department of Agriculture and 10 other agricultural stations to prove cattle breeding a scientific process rather than a subjective visual art. He served as the project’s technical committeeman from Arkansas and later as chairman of the committee. He also initiated a swine breeding project in 1939 that became a part of the Southern Region Dairy Cattle Breeding Project S-3 and its successor, S-49. He was author and co-author of over 40 publications in the fields of animal breeding and animal production.
In 1947, in cooperation with dairy leaders in Arkansas, he was instrumental in organizing and putting into operation the Arkansas Dairy Breeders Cooperative. This organization served some 32 counties of Arkansas with artificial breeding service. He first bred animals artificially in the University of Arkansas Dairy Herd in 1940.
He was an inspiring teacher and taught the senior course in animal breeding from 1939 to 1964. He was also instrumental in securing financial support and planning for the Savoy Farm and Animal Science Center, now home to the swine, beef cattle, and boiler chicken research units of the university’s Dale Bumpers College Department of Agriculture. Early in his career, he served as a coach of dairy judging teams at the National Dairy Show.
Dr. Gifford was responsible for initiating the Animal Industry Club (a student organization) on the U of A campus. He served as president of the Southern Section of Animal Science and was named “fellow” of Animal Science Association of Scientists. Dr. Gifford was department head from 1939 until 1964. He left the University of Arkansas in 1964 and taught in British Columbia for a couple of years.
Gifford was named Man of the Year in Agriculture in Arkansas by the Progressive Farmer in 1945. He was a member of the American Dairy Science Association, American Genetic Association and the American Society of Animal Science. He served as secretary, vice-president, and president of the Southern Section of American Society of Animal Science and as a national director of that organization. After retiring, he sold the family home on California Drive as he said, “to a couple of hippie law students,” Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham.