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 research agreement. Research accomplishments have been identified for each of the parent projects in each respective annual report. This is an over-arching project that defines the relationship between the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and USMARC. 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 have had a strong cooperative program at USMARC since the development of USMARC. University animal populations play a critical role in ARS research conducted at USMARC. The animal populations are cared for and extensively managed by university personnel in cooperation with USMARC scientific staff and ARS, USMARC senior management. As a result of this cooperation with the university, USMARC possesses the largest and most deeply phenotyped animal populations in the world. This unique resource is the basis for ongoing genetic and genomic research conducted at USMARC. This deeply phenotyped and well databased animal population is the basis for many collaborative studies between USMARC and UNL as well as other collaborators both nationally and internationally. The unique resource at USMARC provides the USMARC and UNL scientists with a distinct advantage in developing both competitive grant proposals and long-term intramural research programs. The animal resource will continue to be a significant advantage in the future as resources continue to be more scarce across all types of research. The extensive agriculture enterprise that produces animal feed is also tended to by UNL personnel with strategic guidance provided by ARS, USMARC management. UNL personnel are actively participating in efforts to develop procedures and programs that will lessen the environmental impact of USMARC animal and feed production operations. These programs include a significant effort in the implementation of management intensive grazing. This approach to grazing management has proven to be more beneficial to the land resource and more beneficial to the animal as well. Efforts to implement this program across the property are ongoing and have proven to be fruitful. A comprehensive collaborative effort between ARS, USMARC and UNL is also underway to increase the operational efficiencies of the agricultural enterprise at USMARC. This effort involves the examination of nearly every activity in the agricultural enterprise. This effort has led to significant cost savings in a number of areas. Feed utilization and workforce utilization are two examples of these efficiencies. More cost effective animal feeding rations have been developed to efficiently feed available resources during their prime nutritional value. A major effort is also underway to increase the mobility of the agricultural workforce in order to provide each employee with a more diverse skill set. This diverse skill set will allow all employees to more effectively contribute to the efficiency of the agricultural enterprise by being able to quickly respond to the labor need, wherever that need may be. This cooperative effort has continued to utilize resources of both parties in a very efficient manner to support a multidiscipline-oriented large animal research programs.