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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Lexington, Kentucky » Forage-animal Production Research » Research » Research Project #418978

Research Project: Improving Sustainability of Forage-based Production Systems

Location: Forage-animal Production Research

Project Number: 5042-32630-003-08-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2018
End Date: Apr 30, 2020

Objective:
Objective 1: Determine relationships of ergot alkaloids to receptors in animal tissues and subsequent effects on animal physiology, and the implications of these relationships on clearance from animal tissues. Objective 2: Develop cost-effective management approaches to alleviate or mitigate the adverse effects of fescue toxicosis on animal physiology and well-being. Objective 3: Determine the biological mechanisms used by certain plant secondary metabolites to function as antimicrobials in ruminants and non-ruminants, and assess their impact on animal health, performance, and well-being. Objective 4: Improve the management and use of tall fescue as forage through improved understanding of interactions among tall fescue, endophytes and climate Objective 5: Improve pasture sustainability and enhance animal nutrition, health and performance by exploring and manipulating plant secondary metabolites Objective 6: Improve forage production, management and storage by exploring and manipulating ruminant and non-ruminant gastrointestinal microbiology and manipulating interactions between plant primary and secondary metabolites and the digestive tracts. Objective 7: Improve the contribution of red clover to pasture quality by enhancing stress resistance and root interactions with rhizobium.

Approach:
Forage systems provide low cost feed, conserve soil and water resources, and mitigate man’s impact on the environment. However, basic biological information is limited on how plant metabolites affect animal performance, health, and wellbeing. Fundamental information concerning how these metabolites affect grazing animals has only recently become a focus. To increase the sustainability of forage-based enterprises, it is essential that a betterunderstanding be developed of the fundamental biological processes underlying the interactions between the animal, plant and pasture ecosystems. This research will ascertain the complex interactions within the animal-plant-environment interface and to improve forage production, animal performance, health and well being. Research is focused on the utilization and production of the predominant forages in the South Eastern transition zone of the United States. Methodologies include: fundamental molecular biology of plants and animals, physiology of plants and their endophytes, physiology of animals and their microbiota, novel plot experiments, feeding trials with unique microbiological measurements and grazing studies place the more basic work in the context of management.