The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently awarded $6.72 million in funding for 15 grants to enhance animal reproduction, and $4.05 million in funding for 8 grants that will improve the welfare and well-being of agricultural animals.
“NIFA invests in science-based management practices that help America’s agricultural enterprises thrive, while meeting growing consumer demand for high-quality food and rigorous sustainable agriculture practices,” said NIFA Director Carrie Castille.
These 23 grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.
The 15 animal reproduction awards are for projects that will address better strategies for animal production systems by enhancing reproductive management. These advances will come from basic and applied research on the cellular, molecular, genomic and whole animal aspects of animal reproduction.
Project highlights include a University of Northern Colorado’s project, “Influence of Fish Oil on Corpus Luteum Function,” which will explore reducing early embryonic mortality and improve profitability in farm animals through supplemental feeding strategies. Another study, conducted at South Dakota State University, will explore pre-pubertal replacement gilt selection through biological indicators. Pennsylvania State University’s project, “Photoperiodic Regulation of Reproduction in the Turkey Hen,” will develop strategies for alleviating production inefficiency due to the limited lay period.
The 8 animal wellbeing grants are awarded by NIFA to advance research to understand how to better assess wellbeing in agricultural animals, while also identifying and lessening negative effects of stressors on farm animals. Enhancing the overall wellbeing of farm animals increases profitability and assures consumers that they have abundant, safe, nutritious and affordable food animal products.
Project highlights in this area include a University of California’ project, “Alleviation of Acute and Long-term Pain Associated with Disbudding Dairy Calves,” which will explore possible ways to reduce pain in dairy calves, from short-term pain relief through the healing process, and will inform best practices in the day-to-day care of dairy calves on farms. Another study, conducted at the University of Arkansas, will explore managing pain in cattle undergoing castration using a biodegradable microneedle patch containing meloxicam. University of New Mexico’s project, “Elucidating the Role of Beta Defensins in Stress Response in Rainbow Trout,” will develop antimicrobial peptide targeted therapeutics that minimize stress-derived losses in trout farming.