The Division of Animal Sciences continues to not only conduct research in animal and poultry production but its programs have evolved to represent scientific areas, both basic and applied, that extend beyond the traditional areas of animal production and management. Research includes such disciplines as molecular and cellular biology, immunology, genetics and genomics.
Research Objectives and Impacts
- To elucidate critical molecular, cellular, and metabolic mechanisms that impact growth, nutrient utilization, lactation, muscle biology, reproductive efficiency, meat quality, and well-being of livestock species.
- Produce genetically modified rodent and livestock animal models that will benefit human medicine, veterinary medicine, and animal agriculture.
- Utilize findings from basic/discovery research to understand fundamental biological mechanisms within the whole animal and develop innovative animal production practices that will promote animal well-being and food production.
- Economically optimize the impact of innovative production practices in commercial livestock and poultry enterprises.
Stakeholders and Beneficiaries
Cattle, swine and poultry producers benefit from increased healthfulness and well-being of livestock, while producers throughout the value chain benefit from improved profitability through increased production efficiency. Meat and food service industry, and consumers benefit from improved quality of pork, dairy, beef and poultry products. The feed and allied industries benefit from evaluating new technologies and developing and evaluating new products.
Veterinary practitioners, animal producers and pet owners benefit from new animal models of animal disease, and new methods of testing animal health and food product safety. Genetic livestock companies benefit from increased accuracy of selection based on heritable production traits and from the dissemination of valuable genomes through improved artificial insemination, semen sexing, embryo transfer and increased resistance to disease. Beyond consumers, the health and well-being of our general population benefits from large animal, biomedical models and from the translation of knowledge from animal to human medicine.
General goal is to maximize the healthfulness and productive efficiency of swine and cattle through designing and applying methodologies to DNA test animals and utilize these tests for genetic improvement and animal management and by identifying DNA and/or RNA-based diagnostics associated with phenotypic variation in disease susceptibility, production, productive efficiency, fertility, and stress-related traits. There is a diversity of scientific expertise among the genetics/genomics faculty that spans the disciplinary spectrum from Bioinformatics and Computational Biology to Quantitative Genetics and Genomics. This diversity provides these faculty members with the individual and collaborative expertise to utilize the most appropriate technologies ranging from DNA sequencing to mating systems to address issues of animal improvement.
General goal is to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the meat and livestock industries in Missouri through improved production practices, thus increasing meat quality for all segments of the marketing chain. Applied research deals with carcass composition and palatability (tenderness, juiciness, flavor and color) aspects that can be assessed by consumers. Basic research focuses on developing tools to rapidly quantify meat tenderness without damaging or reducing the value of the carcass.
The general goal is to improve production efficiency and product quality, reduce nutrient excretion, and improve production margins for agriculturally important livestock via advancing our understanding of nutrient requirements and use. The focus is on developing a more precise understanding of nutrient requirements of animals and deriving more precise equations to predict the nutrient requirements of animals. Research is also focused on determining the nutritive value of new feedstuffs, such as those generated as byproducts of bioenergy production. The conducted research relies on basic research to understand biological mechanisms that is then followed by applied research to develop technologies that can be applied to animal production scenarios.