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Friday, August 1, 2014

MU, Texas A&M snag $14 million grant for cattle research

The federal funding will go toward work in the field of food efficiency.

April 16, 2011

MU and Texas A&M have been awarded two grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that total more than 14 million dollars.

The two schools will combine their efforts in researching food efficiency in cattle and Bovine Respiratory Disease.

In a news release, MU animal science professor Jerry Taylor said in the past, cattle breeders had developed a sort of work around, but never solved the problem of efficiency.

“Historically, the only way we have improved the efficiency of cattle growth was by selectively breeding cattle that grew fast,” he said.

With more money available to study the problem, they are confident they will solve it.

“If we can identify and selectively breed the animals that have the best combination of genes for producing high-quality beef with the least amount of grain, their offspring could reduce environmental impacts and save producers millions of dollars,” Taylor said.

The MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources plans to use several techniques to study food efficiency. Among them are, using DNA-based models to predict genetic merit for feed efficiency and they will also study the bacteria and microbes that live inside the cattle’s’ stomachs. The reason for this is because these bacteria and microbes affect how the animals are able to digest food, therefore affecting food efficiency.

The study will utilize undergraduate, graduate and veterinary students. They will learn about feed efficiency and disease resistance during the five-year project.

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