Animal Science Program
Research and Extension Programs
Nutritional deficit is the primary concern for suboptimal cattle reproduction and calf production efficiency. Also, calf health and performance following stress are the second most important factors regulating the economic feasibility of beef operations. Thus, our research/extension programs focus on using nutritional strategies to:
- Optimize beef female reproduction: Five research studies are exploring novel supplementation strategies to enhance reproductive performance of mature and young beef females. Assuming that 30% of producers adopt one of these supplementation strategies, the potential impact of this research could achieve $16 million of extra annual calf production.
- Enhance offspring performance: Investigate novel nutritional strategies and advance the knowledge of the influence of maternal and early-life nutrition on future calf performance. Three studies are evaluating the long-term impacts of manipulating the diet of pregnant beef females during the entire pregnancy, or during late-gestation only, and addressing methionine deficiency of young pregnant beef females. Assuming that 30% of producers would adopt one of these supplementation strategies, the potential impact of these studies could achieve 12 million pounds of additional calf production per year.
- Boost growth and health of stressed beef calves: Develop nutritional practices to overcome the negative impacts of stress on health and productivity of growing beef calves. Our program published 10 research studies manipulating the nutrition of stressed beef calves that benefited beef industries in NC and FL, but also nationwide. For instance, we reported that decreasing the frequency of supplementation events while maintaining the weekly supplement amount decreased calf growth by 21% and multiple measurements of immunity compared to daily supplementation, which costs beef industry up to $18 million/year.