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: 5438-31320-012-00D; 5438-31430-005-00D; 5438-32000-030-00D; 5438-42000-013-00D; 5438-42000-014-00D; 5438-42000-015-00D; 5438-31000-089-00D; 5438-31000-090-00D; 5438-31000-093-00D; 5438-31000-092-00D; 5438-31000-091-00D; 5438-32630-006-00D; 5438-41630-001-00D and 5438-32000-031-00D.
3. Progress Report:
Further information regarding specific research projects supported across this effort can be found in the reports for all projects at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC). This report summarizes the 5-year umbrella project that has defined the relationship between the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) and USMARC. All USMARC projects contribute to this cooperative research agreement. Research accomplishments have been identified for each of the parent projects in each respective annual report. The agreement covers National Programs in Food Animal Production, Animal Health, Food Safety, and Manure and Byproduct Utilization. The University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) and the USDA, ARS in Clay Center, Nebraska have had a strong cooperative program at USMARC since the development of the Center. This cooperative effort continues and plans are currently in place to augment this effort with new collaborations and programs that will facilitate even greater collaboration among USMARC and UNL programs. The University provides 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. UNL personnel also gather and manage field data in conduct of research projects and provide agriculture crop production and utilization support. Crop production utilization and support is a vital component to Center operations as production costs continue to escalate and have the potential to erode the capacity of resources assigned to scientific output. Cooperative efforts on the part of ARS management at the Center and UNL personnel have led to significant cost reductions regarding the operation of the agriculture enterprise at the Center. These cost reductions have allowed increased resources to be committed to collaborative research activities beneficial to both parties. A strategic effort has been initiated to enhance the animal handling and animal research facilities at the USMARC, Clay Center, Nebraska. Cooperator employees continue to play a direct role in this enhancement. Significant renovations have been successfully implemented in the beef cattle intensive animal feeding operations. UNL employees provide a vital support role in the implementation of these construction plans as well as implementing the revised operating procedures once the construction has been completed. Efforts are currently underway to renovate and replace a number of swine buildings. UNL personnel continue to play a vital role in the development of the plans with ARS management and will play a key role in the facility implementation at construction completion. Over the last three years of the agreement, in close cooperation, a major effort has been put forward to increase the grazing efficiency of the research animal herds. This effort has proven to be extremely fruitful. Current drought conditions have only made more critical the nature of these management changes. Grazing and pasture management expertise provided by UNL employees is a vital component to the current grazing and land management plans. The plans in place have greatly reduced the need for harvested feed utilization on the Center and as a result this has reduced the cost to maintain the research herds and has allowed for greater scientific capacity to be developed at USMARC, Clay Center, Nebraska. Projects that have been a part of this cooperative effort have had great benefit to stakeholders. These projects are listed as follows: 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. The cooperative effort between ARS and UNL at USMARC, Clay Center, Nebraska has been vital to the success of ARS and UNL research programs, respectively. This effort has utilized resources of both parties in a way that augments the programs of both parties and allows both parties to accomplish more than they could do alone. The cooperative effort will continue to be strengthened as leadership of both organizations see the value and strategic benefit of the cooperative effort.