Skip Navigation

About the Division of Animal Sciences

Agriculture produces the third largest product value in Missouri, exceeded only by automobile manufacturing and tourism. Agriculture in Missouri is very diverse, including beef and dairy cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, forest products, corn, soybeans, cotton, milo, wheat, sunflowers, mushrooms, fruits, vegetables and numerous other alternative crops. Missouri's terrain is also diverse, ranging from the prairie type terrain in the Northwest and Northeast to the low-lying flat plains of the Southeast, to the Ozark Mountain areas.

The University of Missouri is the oldest Land-Grant University west of the Mississippi River. The College of Agriculture was established in 1870 and the Agriculture Experiment Station was founded in 1888 under the Hatch Act of 1887. Congressman Hatch represented Northeast Missouri and wrote the Act. The Missouri Animal Sciences Division has an illustrious history which extends for a period of over a century. The original departments were Dairy Husbandry, Animal Husbandry, and Poultry Husbandry which were organized in 1901, 1904 and 1911, respectively. In 1983 the departments of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Husbandry were merged to form the Animal Sciences Department and in 1989 the Animal Sciences Department and the Dairy Husbandry Department were merged to form the Animal Sciences Unit. In 2005 the Animal Sciences Unit was elevated to the Animal Sciences Division. Other units closely allied with the Animal Sciences Division are the Commercial Agriculture Program and the Food For the 21st Century Program.

Missouri faculty became leaders in animal research and extension interests early in the 20th century. Early research concentrated on the effects of nutrition and management practices on the efficiency of production of high-quality meat, milk, eggs and animal products. Some of the early "pioneers" who attained national stature were F. B. Mumford (controlled animal feeding); A. G. Hogan (vitamin and mineral supplements for swine); Samuel Brody (environmental physiology and energy metabolism); C. W. Turner (endocrinology and lactation); H. L. Kempster (egg production); Fred McKenzie (reproductive biology) and H. A. Herman (artificial insemination). Many of these avenues of research and extension were so "on-target" that they continue today at a much more basic level. (For an up-to-date history of the Animal Sciences Division see: The Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri - 100 years, Agriculture Experiment Station Special Report 564, April 2006).

Mission of the Animal Sciences Division

Animal agriculture is a very important resource to Missouri. The state has a high inventory (top 10 ranking among states) in the major livestock species. Sales of livestock, poultry and their products contribute $2.7 billion annually to the State’s income, accounting for over 53% of the total agricultural cash income

Animal products serve human needs by supplying approximately 3/4 of the protein, 1/3 of the energy and a substantial amount of essential vitamins and minerals in the American diet as well as fiber to be used in the production of clothing. The challenge of providing food and fiber for the ever-expanding human population is before us. A thriving and efficient animal agriculture is essential to aid in meeting these challenges of the 21st century.

As the Land-Grant University of a state in which animal agriculture makes a major contribution to the economy, the University of Missouri has an obligation to the citizens of the State to fulfill these four missions:

  1. Provide high quality intellectual experiences to educate students to understand and contribute successfully throughout their lives to a rapidly changing global and culturally diverse society. The success of these efforts will be evidenced by a continued strong demand for Animal Science graduates in the marketplace and by long-term success of Animal Science graduates in their chosen career.
  2. Increase the Division’s impact on animal agriculture in the future by attracting excellent students with an interest in animal agriculture and retaining them in our educational programs. Success in this effort will be documented by improved entrance exam scores and retention and graduation rates of our undergraduate and graduate students.
  3. Enhance strategic research strengths that will provide basic understanding and solve problems of animal agriculture and have potential applications to human medicine. Areas to be emphasized in the Division are: 1) reproductive biology; 2) efficiency of forage utilization by livestock; 3) nutritional modifications that enhance animal performance and global competitiveness of animal agriculture; and 4) genetics and genomics leading to improved genetic merit of livestock.
  4. Maintain ongoing communications with the various clientele groups of the Division to ensure that priority research and education issues are identified and addressed. We aspire to develop and disseminate new knowledge from research to enable off campus extension faculty and the State’s citizens to be at the forefront of knowledge and technology. Evidence for success in these efforts will be documented by strong support of the Division, College and University from various commodity groups and industries involved in animal agriculture and improvement in productivity of animal agriculture in Missouri relative to that of competing states while making wise use of the state’s natural resources.

Teaching

The Division of Animal Sciences has a broad-based teaching program. Twenty-five faculty members in the Division are involved in teaching with appointments summing to only 5.7 FTE, which is a reduction of .64 FTE since 2000. Our faculty members are noted for teaching excellence. Animal Science faculty members have won seven awards for teaching and/or advising excellence from 1999-2004. A key feature of our teaching program is the use of ranked faculty in the classroom. Ranked faculty are responsible for teaching 28 of 30 undergraduate courses offered by the Division. A total of 5228 student credit hours were generated by Animal Sciences faculty members during the 2003-04 academic year, that is 917 credit hours per teaching FTE. The number of credit hours per teaching FTE is the same as in 2000, thus the reduction in number of credit hours taught since 2000 is reflected exactly by the reduction in number of faculty members. Approximately 317 undergraduate students major in Animal Sciences (time trends shown below). Among these are many students who have a goal of entering the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Undergraduate students in the Animal Sciences are active in research, both as investigators mentored by faculty members as well as key employees in our laboratories and on our farms. The Division has enjoyed strong demand for graduates. The Division also has a strong graduate program and has maintained or increased numbers, supportand placement rates over the past five years. A concern regarding the graduate program is an increase in the percentage of students entering on probation (mostly MU graduates). The Division has need to maintain a diverse faculty qualified to teach relevant courses in five discipline areas (physiology, ruminant nutrition, monogastric nutrition, genetics and livestock production) and across six species (swine, dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry, companion animals and horses) to serve the demand for graduates to be employed by the Missouri livestock and agribusiness industries.

Research

The goal of the Animal Science research program is to study fundamental principles, asking the question "why?", and to then apply research findings to increase production efficiency within the livestock industry. Animal Science faculty members represent a continuum from basic scientists investigating effects of variation in DNA sequence, to animal production and extension specialists assisting producers with incorporation of technological advances to solve specific animal production problems. The Animal Sciences Division works toward a common objective of implementing technology applicable to animal agriculture to the benefit of producers and consumers. There are a total of 19.26 research FTE in the Division (reproductive biology - 7.61; nutrition - 7.14; genetics - 3.13; meats - .58, and environmental physiology - .8. The Animal Sciences faculty have been very active in acquiring funds in support of their research. In the last ten years the amount of grant money obtained by the faculty has increased approximately fourteen fold and the amount of external funds (annualized) for 2003-2004 was $5,949,064 (see trend, below). The Animal Sciences Division currently ranks in the top ten departments at MU in external funds awarded. The faculty have been noted for their excellence in research. From 1999 to 2004, faculty received 14 research awards and seven of the awards were at the national level. Finally, the Animal Sciences faculty are committed to communicating their research findings to others.

Extension

The Animal Sciences Division has a diverse and dynamic extension program serving the broad-based Missouri animal agriculture. Beef cattle are the leading livestock enterprise and are owned and managed on 68,000 operations and yield an income of nearly $850 million. More than 3,500 dairy operations produce milk worth $240 million; the number of grass-based dairies in southwest Missouri is expanding. The poultry industry included 274 million birds with production valued at $714 million. The swine industry continues to be among the nation’s leaders with 3 million hogs and pigs resulting in an income of $428 million. The Missouri horse industry is second only to beef in number of operations with over 200,000 animals valued at $420 million on 37,000 operations.

Given this diversity, outreach and extension programming involves a diverse group of faculty with specific expertise. Seven faculty members in the Division have outreach-extension appointments totaling 4.55 FTE. In addition, the Division has recently hired Dr. Justin Sexten to fill our Commercial Ag Beef Specialist position. Since 2000, Division extension faculty members have received eleven awards for extension programming. These programming efforts serve a diverse and important segment of the state.

Value Statement

The Division of Animal Sciences strongly endorses the principles embodied in MU's value statement - respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence. In that context, we seek to recruit and retain outstanding scholars who are:

  • Committed to blending service with scholarship
  • Leaders
  • Good colleagues who will collaborate with others from diverse disciplines and backgrounds
  • Flexible and adaptable in an era of rapid change