New USDA Lab to Study Stress Indicators in
Livestock By Don
June 3, 2004
WASHINGTON, June 3--The Agricultural Research Service opened a new
2,300-square-foot Farm Animal Behavior and Well-Being Laboratory today in West
Lafayette, Ind., for the study of stress indicators in livestock. Researchers
at the new laboratory also study the relationship between stress and the
ability of pathogenic bacteria to establish themselves in animals. ARS is the
chief scientific research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
The new facility adjoins a 10,000-square-foot laboratory built
in 1997 to house ARS' Livestock
Behavior Research Unit, which conducts behavioral studies of swine, cattle
Purdue University animal scientists work alongside ARS
scientists on the Purdue campus and at the
Purdue Animal Science Farm about 15
miles north of the main campus. Purdue hosted a dedication ceremony today for
its Swine Environmental Research Building, located on the university farm near
the new ARS laboratory.
ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling said the new ARS lab
will complement the behavioral studies under way in the animal lab to find
possible objective measures of animal stress.
"Stress in livestock can lower productivity and possibly
increase the risk of contamination from Salmonella and other bacterial
pathogens," Knipling said.
Donald C. Lay, research leader and animal behavioralist at the
lab, is working on an imaging system to show the movement of Salmonella
bacteria through live pigs. He and colleagues are also researching alternative
housing for poultry and livestock.
In tandem with the housing research, the ARS-Purdue team is
pioneering the idea of breeding nonaggressive animals to reduce losses and
stress. This includes selecting sows whose maternal behavior makes them less
likely to injure their piglets, a problem that costs farmers more than $600