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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics, Breeding, and Animal Health Research » Research » Research Project #414273


Location: Genetics, Breeding, and Animal Health Research

2011 Annual Report

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; 5438-31000-087-00D; 5438-32630-005-00D; 5438-63000-012-00D 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 parent projects in each respective annual report. This is an over-arching research project that defines the relationship 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 animal populations play a critical role in the research conducted at USMARC. The animal populations are cared for and extensively managed by University personnel in cooperation with USMARC scientific staff. As a result of this cooperation with the University, USMARC possesses the largest and most deeply phenotyped cattle population in the world. This unique resource is the basis for ongoing genetic and genomic research conducted at USMARC. In cooperation with UNL, USMARC is embarking on a ten-year effort to increase the size of the cattle herd. This growth in the animal population will allow for increased numbers in genetic and genomic resource populations. The collection of additional novel phenotypes by UNL personnel will provide USMARC with additional competitive research opportunities. Energy costs comprise a significant portion of the USMARC operating budget. UNL personnel are actively participating in efforts to reduce energy consumption across all aspects of USMARC operations. Significant progress has been made in reducing electrical consumption over the last three years. University personnel have provided labor and technical resources in accomplishing a major lighting retrofit across all headquarters buildings at USMARC. University personnel also provide day-to-day expertise in operation, repair, and maintenance of the physical plant. As a result of this joint effort between ARS and UNL, USMARC has realized a decrease in electricity consumption of more than 22% percent since FY 2008. This decrease in consumption will save more than $90,000 in electricity costs in FY 2011. 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 of USMARC operations and research staff. Close communication and consideration continues between ARS managers and UNL personnel, providing the opportunity to carry out mutual goals in the most efficient manner.

4. Accomplishments