1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this project is to research and develop scientific information to increase efficiency of production while maintaining safe, lean, high quality beef cattle, sheep and swine and minimize the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. The University of Nebraska and the USDA, ARS have had a strong cooperative program at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) since the development of the Center. All of the beef cattle, sheep, and swine are owned by the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station. The University provides personnel to produce feed and care for and manage of the livestock in the studies, as well as to gather and manage field data. ARS provides the overall management of the Center, facilities, scientific leadership and laboratory expertise. This cooperative effort utilizes the resources of both parties in a very efficient manner to support a multidiscipline-oriented large animal research program. This cooperative agreement is funded by all the research projects at the Center. The research will be conducted at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) and other mutually agreed upon sites. Research conducted at USMARC and the mutually agreed upon sites will be collaborative efforts in which the University and ARS co-lead in the preparation, planning, and execution of experiments.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Beef cattle, sheep, and swine will be utilized to develop new understandings of animal genetics and how these impact selection criterion, reproduction, animal health, food safety, animal stress, and nutrient management strategies. Discoveries potentially will enhance animal productivity in concert with the ecological and economic sustainability of animal agriculture. Results will be summarized and disseminated to producers, researchers, and other interested parties. The University will provide qualified personnel to care for and manage livestock involved in studies as well as the safe operation, care and maintenance of required infrastructure such as vehicles, scales, fences, corrals, rangeland, roads, crop land, buildings, and associated equipment; to gather and manage field data in conduct of research projects; and to provide agriculture crop production and utilization support. ARS will provide scientific leadership, laboratory expertise, necessary technical supervision, land, facilities, and equipment required to conduct research, and manage, maintain, and make available data from individual experimental animal data bases required to address cooperative research efforts. Specific projects include long term genetics experiments designed to characterize different breeds and identify genes that affect production and carcass traits; identifying methods to improve reproductive efficiency in cattle, pigs, and sheep; improving nutrient utilization, the impact of the production system on the environment, and animal well-being, and reducing animal stress; reducing the prevalence of pre- and post-harvest food safety pathogens in meat; developing laboratory and bioinformatics tools to advance genomics and functional genomics research in cattle, pigs, and sheep; and improving the health of farm animals. Participant In-house project numbers: 5438-31000-082-00D; 5438-31430-004-00D; 5438-32000-026-00D; 5438-32000-028-00D; 5438-42000-013-00D; 5438-31000-086-00D; 5438-31000-083-00D; 5438-31000-084-00D; 5438-31000-080-00D; 5438-32630-005-00D; 5438-63000-011-00D and 5438-32000-029-00D.
3. Progress Report
All U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) projects contribute to this cooperative agreement. Research accomplishments have been identified for each of the in-house parent projects in each respective annual report. This is an over-arching project that defines the scientific research between the University of Nebraska and USMARC. It covers National Programs Food Animal Production, Animal Health, Food Safety, and Manure and Byproduct Utilization. The University of Nebraska (UNL) and the USDA, ARS have had a strong cooperative program at USMARC since the development of USMARC. University personnel at USMARC are maintaining a concentrated effort to improve the carrying capacity of the USMARC property. A Center-wide effort is under way to implement improved grazing management at the Center. A major part of this effort is the efficient distribution of watering sites across the 35,000 acres of the Center. UNL construction crews are working to develop these watering sites and systems to increase the distribution of grazing animals, i.e., beef cattle and sheep. The goal is to increase the carrying capacity of the land while improving the overall health of the property and grazing lands. Increasing the carrying capacity of the land will allow UNL and USMARC to strengthen scientific capacity by improving the quality and sustainability of the land. A Center-wide team has been established to work on the goals described above. This team consists of senior managers from both ARS and UNL. This committee meets regularly to set priorities and monitor progress towards those priorities. As a part of this comprehensive effort, Livestock Operations is working to implement a management-intensive grazing program for irrigated and dryland pastures. An educational program is being developed to implement stewardship goals and practices among all employees who interact with grazing animals. Sheep Operations is working towards an effort to assist ARS in developing and evaluating an easy care population of sheep. This type of population has been identified as a priority of the sheep industry. This project will require modifications in both animal and facilities management. Swine Operations is currently working toward mirroring industry practices with the implementation of many different herd management techniques. This change in management practices will increase the number of pigs farrowed per year at USMARC. It has been determined that scientists are not using the finishing pigs in research projects, so Swine Operations will no longer finish pigs for market. All animals will be sold at weaning. Farm Operations is developing plans to reduce the number of corn acres planted both for grain and for silage. This reduction in corn acres will allow for more irrigated forage production. This cooperative effort has continued to utilize resources of both parties in a very efficient manner to support a multidiscipline-oriented large animal research program. Monitoring activities include regular meetings with USMARC operations and research staff.