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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Research Project #422392

Research Project: Improved Nutrient Efficiency of Beef Cattle and Swine

Location: Nutrition, Growth and Physiology

Project Number: 3040-31000-092-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 31, 2012
End Date: Jul 30, 2017

Objective 1: Determine the nutrient value and environmental consequences of novel feed products. Component 1: Problem Statement 1A Objective 2: Improve determination of dynamic changes in nutrient requirements as the animal’s physiological status changes to allow for timed nutrient delivery. Component 1: Problem Statement 1A Objective 3: Determine the role of malnutrition during critical periods in developmental programming and epigenetic effects that alter lifetime production potential and product quality. Component 1: Problem Statement 1A Objective 4: Determine metabolic and physiological mechanisms responsible for variation in feed efficiency that is under genetic control. Component 1: Problem Statement 1A Objective 5: Determine age, gender, genetic, and environmental factors that account for variation in feeding activity and growth of swine Component 1: Problem Statement 1C Objective 6: Characterize the response of cattle to changes in environmental temperature with respect to various management strategies and animal risk factors. Component 1: Problem Statement 1C Obective 7: Determine the relationships between ruminal microbial communities, animal genotype, and/or methane production with feed/nutrient use efficiency and/or lactation performance in response to varying nutritional regimens in beef or dairy cattle. Component 1: Problem Statement 1A Component 2: Problem Statement 2B; Problem Statement 2D

Feed costs represent the single largest input in both beef and swine production; however, less than 20% of the feed energy is converted to edible product. Improving the efficiency that feed is converted to animal products has the potential to improve the economic efficiency of animal production while improving the sustainability of animal agriculture. To maximize feed efficiency the correct profile of nutrients are matched to meet an animal’s needs for its current biological status (growth, pregnancy, lactation, previous nutrient history, and disease). In order to provide the correct profile of nutrients, the nutrient composition of feeds and the dynamic nutrient requirements of the animal must both be identified and then synchronized. There is genetic variation amongst animals in their ability to utilize feed. Multiple genes are associated with the regulation of feed intake, and the utilization of ingested nutrients. Differential expression of these genes results in variation of feed efficiency amongst animals within populations, and these genetic differences potentially change the nutrient requirements of the animal. Nutrient status during critical periods of development (fetal and peripuberal) can permanently modify the expression of genes changing the lifetime feed efficiency of an animal. Identifying the role of nutrition in regulating gene expression is needed to develop nutrition management strategies across generations of animals in a production system.