Beef hormone effects targeted in new research study

US - A research team that includes scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is studying the environmental impacts of hormones excreted by cattle and how those impacts might be lessened.
calendar icon 27 February 2007
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"We hope this project will provide valuable information to both regulators and livestock producers in promoting a balance between agricultural production and environmental protection," says UNL environmental analytical chemist Dan Snow in a UNL release.

Snow, director of services at the UNL Water Sciences Laboratory, is coordinating a team of nine researchers from UNL, Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the study, which is funded by a nearly $700,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They are expected to complete their work by the end of 2010.

The research focuses on what happens to hormones excreted in cattle manure at concentrated animal feeding operations and potential environmental impacts when that manure is used as fertilizer on crops.

Researchers will measure hormones in manure as it passes through various stages of use, storage or containment throughout a feedlot, determine how different handling methods for animal waste affect its presence in feedlots, how different ways of applying manure as fertilizer affect its presence in the root zone of soils and to what extent grasses in field-edge conservation buffers absorb hormones from runoff water.

The project will include sampling and surveying existing CAFOs across Nebraska for hormones in feedlot handling processes; how stockpiling, composting and containing runoff determines the presence of hormones in feedlots; and what manure application strategies best contain hormone losses from a feedlot through water runoff and soil erosion.

"Going in, we expect that the research will show measurable levels of hormones occur in cattle manure, and that these compounds or their derivatives can remain in soil for extended periods of time and may be found in runoff water from land receiving applications of cattle manure," Snow says.

Hormones are commonly used to help stimulate livestock growth, but a growing body of scientific evidence indicates their presence in the environment can alter the development of wildlife species and have other endocrine-disrupting health effects. Naturally produced hormones excreted by livestock also may contribute to these effects, Snow said.

Source: Agriculture Online
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