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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Research Project #442533

Research Project: Environmental and Management Influences on Animal Productivity and Well-Being Phenotypes

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Project Number: 3096-32000-009-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 26, 2022
End Date: Jul 25, 2027

Objective 1: Use high-throughput phenotyping, automated data capture, and data computational technologies to explore relationships among animal behavior, environment, and management practices on animal productivity and well-being. Sub-objective 1.A: Utilize automated data capture technologies to study the influence of phenotype, environment and management strategies on production efficiency, well-being, and the prevalence of enteric and foodborne pathogens in beef cattle. Sub-objective 1.B: Evaluate non-invasive infrared thermography for targeted metaphylactic antibiotic treatment to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in feedlot production while maintaining animal productivity, health, and well-being. Sub-objective 1.C: Evaluate the ability of non-antibiotic alternatives to reduce and mitigate Salmonella pathogenesis and its negative impacts on overall well-being in dairy calves and swine. Objective 2: Reduce the incidence and severity of liver abscesses in cattle through management strategies. Sub-objective 2.A: Continue development of an experimental model to study liver abscesses in cattle. Sub-objective 2.B: Utilize nutritional supplements to reduce the incidence and severity of liver abscesses in cattle. Objective 3: Evaluate natural variations, hormonal regulation, and nutritional modulation of immune cell activity and inflammation in livestock. Sub-objective 3.A: Utilize in vitro immune cell phenotyping to determine the influence of temperament on immunity and disease resistance in beef cattle. Sub-objective 3.B: Evaluate the role of ghrelin in vitro and in vivo as a means to reduce inflammation and improve well-being in cattle and swine. Sub-objective 3.C: Evaluate changes in inflammatory and oxidative stress markers in cattle and swine fed various non-antibiotic feed additives including sorghum extracts and cotton seed oil products.

Animal health and well-being continues to be at the forefront of livestock production. Any progress to be made in responsibly producing livestock products must be made through providing tools to improve animal productivity and well-being. It is now understood that many factors influence animal well-being and productivity, including phenotype (i.e., temperament), nutrition, environment (i.e., climate changes), and health status. Further complicating the matter is the increased consumer pressure to decrease antimicrobial use in livestock, and the need to identify viable antibiotic alternatives in order to maintain animal productivity and health. Therefore, this research will increase understanding of the interactions among phenotype, nutrition, and environmental factors to improve/provide tools for producers to maximize productivity and well-being. Objective 1 will utilize high-throughput phenotyping and automated data capture and computation technologies to improve animal productivity and well-being. Additionally, non-invasive biomarker data capture techniques will be tested that can provide valuable information to producers. For Objective 2 we will continue development of an experimental model to study liver abscess development and strategies to reduce liver abscess incidence and severity in cattle. Lastly, Objective 3 will assess differences in immune cell function stemming from natural variations and non-antibiotic additives and will evaluate how these factors may be utilized to reduce inflammation and improve productivity. Together, these objectives will provide invaluable information to cattle and swine producers on the impact of phenotype, environment, and nutrition on livestock productivity, health and well-being, and provide tools to help producers continue to provide healthy animal products to consumers.