Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest Post: University Research. What They Do and Why It Matters.

Animal research. It puts into one’s mind white lab coats, goggles, test tubes, and white mice. But in reality, there’s a world of research going on every day in our universities, and much of it concerns the animals we eat. From establishing new protocols for food safety to finding new ways to keep our beef less expensive, universities across the country are conducting diverse field and laboratory research to keep our animals healthy and productive. 

Pennsylvania State University’s Research and Extension office has not only provided excellent usable data for dairy producers in particular, but has also utilized their extension services to make that information available to small farmers. A big portion of their research has focused on comparing feeding methods in dairy calves, which has great financial impact for any milk producer small or large. Some of the most significant losses in milk production occur due to calf mortality rates and speed of development. These studies were proposed to find ways to limit that loss, and are built on results that are published in Israel, the United Kingdom, and other areas of the world to ensure that every farmer has access to the entire world’s knowledge.

Looking at another faucet of food production, the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) is currently working hard to not only discover more efficient methods of raising beef cattle, but also promote their welfare.

“The long-term goal of our research program is to elaborate strategies that prevent stress-related illnesses elicited by routine cattle management procedures and, consequently, promote cattle welfare and productivity.”(Cooke, 2011)

Several current studies in progress at the EOARC are doing just that. From finding ways to make transport and handling less stressful to suggesting new business practices that make production more efficient, the EOARC promotes welfare by working with cattle producers and identifying financial benefits associated with welfare. Research at the center sponsored by Oregon State University also takes place at many other stations and environments across the state, and all of them collaborate to find the best ways to utilize the unique resources in Oregon and beyond.

Across the country, there are animal scientists working in locations just like those in Oregon and Pennsylvania, and all of them are constantly reviewing the research that’s been completed, and finding new questions to answer. Funding these projects has made the systems we use today possible, and makes the daunting task of affordably feeding the world a reality.

Guest post written by Austin J. Bouck. Austin is a student at Oregon State University studying Animal Science with a focus in pre-veterinary medicine. He is currently interning at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, Oregon. You can read more of his animal science research posts on his blog, Animal Science Review.

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