Project Examines Impact of Good Nutrition on Calves

US - Does proper nutrition at the very beginnings of a calf's life have a significant impact as the animal grows up? The answer to that question could mean tens of millions of dollars to cattle producers across the country who suffer losses of $600 million annually due to poor calf health at feedlots.
calendar icon 27 August 2007
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Clint Lšest, an associate professor in New Mexico State University's Department of Animal and Range Sciences, monitors cattle at NMSU's Corona Range and Livestock Research Center. NMSU is partnering with several other organizations in a four-year, $397,505 project to research the effect of proper nutrition in the earliest stages of a calf's life.

A team of researchers and Cooperative Extension Service experts at New Mexico State University is embarking on a four-year, $397,505 project to pin down the impact of improved calf nutrition even before the animal is born and when it is very young, and to relay the findings to stakeholders across the Southwest.

Clint Ls est, an associate professor in NMSU's Department of Animal and Range Sciences, said the findings of an earlier research project gave scientists the idea that proactive steps in the early stages of a calf's life can lead to improved performance at the feedlot.

"We're already done some previous research to validate our theories," Ls est said. That research showed similarities with the concept that proper prenatal care for humans can result in far fewer health challenges later in life. "We think the same could be the case in beef cattle."

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service's National Research Initiative. In addition to the involvement of both research and Extension faculty from NMSU, the project will involve collaborators from the University of Arizona and Texas A&M University. Also participating will be an advisory committee made up of members of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Feeder Committee.

Leading the project from NMSU will be Ls est; Extension Livestock Specialist Clay P. Mathis; and Animal and Range Sciences Professor Mark Petersen. Jason Sawyer, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, also is leading the project.

"Partnering with other universities increases our visibility to producers," Ls est said. "It broadens the scope to where we are actually contributing to stakeholders. With that collaboration with us, we have a much stronger impact."

The project includes 13 participants — five Extension specialists and eight researchers — who bring expertise in ruminant nutrition, rumen microbiology, veterinary science, agriculture economics, program development, agriculture communications and experimental statistics.

Source: Las Cruces Sun-News
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