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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Research Project #442588

Research Project: Optimizing Nutrient Management and Efficiency of Beef Cattle and Swine

Location: Nutrition, Growth and Physiology

Project Number: 3040-31000-102-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

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

Objective 1. Targeted nutrient delivery to improve efficiency of growth and to meet requirements for pregnancy and lactation. Objective 2. Determine dynamic changes in nutrient requirements as the animal’s physiological status changes to allow for timed nutrient delivery. Objective 3. Determine metabolic and physiological mechanisms responsible for variation in feed efficiency that are under genetic and epigenetic control. Objective 4: Evaluate the lifetime production of GHG from ruminant animal systems (cattle and/or sheep) in controlled and rangeland settings, incorporating nutritional, production management, and health factors as they contribute to variation in emissions.

Feed costs represent the single largest input in both beef and swine production; however, less than 20% of the energy from feed 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 also improving the sustainability of animal agriculture. Variation in the utilization of nutrients for maintenance, gain, reproduction, and lactation are functions of the ability of livestock at various physiological stages to convert the nutrients in feed to meat products and to maximize lifetime productivity. The objectives in this project plan address critical components that contribute to variation in nutrient utilization and feed efficiency at multiple physiological stages from fetal development to mature animals. Traditionally, research has been conducted within discipline. A robust approach encompassing a combination of genomics, physiology, epigenetics, management, and classical nutrition needs to be used to understand and improve feed efficiency. Growth and feed efficiency are influenced by management strategies, diet, metabolism, physiology, and genetic potential. A comparative biology approach for beef cattle and swine utilizing systems research methodologies will be used to identify molecular, physiological, biological pathways, and mechanisms responsible for nutrient utilization and feed efficiency in both species.