High grain and feedstuff prices add to the increasing importance of expanded and more efficient nutrient utilization for enhanced production efficiency in agriculturally important animals. Success in doing so will reduce on-farm costs and waste benefiting both industry and the environment. While research efforts are multifaceted, efforts aimed at gaining an understanding of the role of nutrients, hormones and regulatory mechanisms of key metabolic pathways to increase nutrient utilization in growing and lactating animals are a priority. Efficient and profitable animal production requires development of nutritional strategies that optimize the utilization of ingested nutrients for productive purposes - growth, reproduction, and lactation. It is also imperative that strategies be developed to minimize excretion of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen that have the potential to adversely impact the environment. Current research activities include studies to better define mechanisms that control the digestion and absorption of ingested nutrients and their subsequent metabolism. Knowledge gained from these studies will aid in development of whole diets and dietary supplements that maximize the utilization of ingested nutrients (Rius, Mulliniks). Other activities include study of the role of diet in ameliorating adverse effects of environmental stresses, such as heat stress and ingested, naturally occurring toxicants (Smith). As genetic progress is made in such traits as growth rate, carcass leanness, litter size and lactation yield, nutrient requirements are reassessed, especially related to causes of obesity (Voy). Significant efforts are also underway to develop strategies to maximize the utilization of forages in ruminant production systems. These include evaluation of new forages and grazing systems (McIntosh, Mulliniks), and development of supplements that best complement the nutrient profiles of available forages (Mulliniks).
For more information for individual research interests, click on the faculty link below to be directed to their individual sites.