COLUMBIA - The National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the University of Missouri and Texas A&M University two grants totaling more than $14 million. Research teams from both universities will combine their resources to tackle two leading problems in the cattle industry -food efficiency and Bovine Respiratory Disease.
"It's the leading, natural cause of death in both beef and dairy cattle and causing a loss of more than one million animals annually," Roger Beachy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture said.
The first grant, worth $5 million, will help researchers study feed efficiency in cattle. Farmers spend millions of dollars annually feeding cattle. Researchers hope to improve the efficiency of converting nutrients from feed into beef.
Researchers will use the second grant, totaling $9.2 million, to study Bovine Respiratory Disease, or BRD. BRD is the most significant health problem in the beef and dairy industries. Cattle with this disease typically stop eating, lose weight, and require specific treatment. The additional care results in a significant economic loss to farmers.
Researchers will use a DNA-based approach to identify the pathogens responsible for BRD to identify cattle that are resistant to the pathogens. This process of selective breeding is expected to increase the animal well-being and reduce production losses.
"We'll use a similar genetic approach, a big pool of animals to identify those that are resistant to this disease," Beachy said.
"It's not just figuring out what breed of cattle is the most efficient, but what individual animals within that breed," Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said.
Undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students will also be involved in the research to learn about feed efficiency and disease resistance.