Animal Agriculture Initiative Awards 2008-09 Research Dollars

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Seven Michigan State University (MSU) animal agriculture research and Extension projects will receive $350,000 in funding approved by the Animal Agriculture Initiative Coalition (AIC) for 2008-09. From groundbreaking animal identification programming to innovative environmental protection strategies, the AIC-funded projects take an interdisciplinary approach to current and emerging issues for Michigan’s $1.6 billion livestock industry.

Each year, state funding supports projects that are part of the Revitalization of Animal Agriculture in Michigan Initiative. The initiative, commonly referred to as the Animal Agriculture Initiative (AAI), is Michigan’s animal agriculture research, teaching and Extension initiative housed at MSU.

The seven projects were selected from approximately 20 proposals submitted to the AIC addressing challenges identified by livestock industry leaders as affecting livestock producers and their industries in the state. Proposals were ranked on the basis of the issues identified as high priority by industry leaders, MSU Extension area of expertise teams and the AIC.

“The AAI has a reputation for funding forward-thinking projects,” said Mike Orth, MAES animal scientist and chairperson of the coalition. “This year is no exception, with the funds allocated to traditional challenges such as dairy cow fertility and new concepts such as analyzing the skeletal strength of turkeys commonly raised by Michigan farmers.”

The AIC is made up of representatives from the MSU departments of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (formerly Agricultural Economics), Animal Science, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Crop and Soil Sciences, Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Large Animal Clinical Sciences, the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and MSU Extension. It provides program direction to applied research and Extension projects involving Michigan’s beef, dairy, equine, poultry, sheep and swine industries, and works with various industry advisory committees to help establish research priorities for improving Michigan animal agriculture.

“The coalition was very pleased to see MSU researchers partnering with Michigan producers to test their research theories on active operations,” Orth said. “Three of the seven funded researchers have established agreements with local farmers to integrate their research methods into a farm’s existing practices.”

In addition to annual research project funding, the AAI invests in four industry-specific quarterly newsletters: Cattle Call, the Michigan Dairy Review, the Michigan Pork Quarterly and the MSU Equine Program Newsletter. More than 12,000 subscribers receive the AAI-funded newsletters, which feature research articles and opportunities for continued education through MSU Extension.

More than 180 research projects have been funded since the AAI was established in 1996. Projects funded for 2008-09 are:

  • Establishing a USDA Process Verification Program: Capitalizing on Michigan’s Leadership in Individual Animal Identification—Dan Buskirk.
  • Utilizing Wetlands for the Diversion, Retention and Natural Treatment of Tile-Line Effluent from Manured Cropland—Tim Harrigan.
  • Impact of the Variation in Egg Numbers on Fertility in Dairy Cattle—James Ireland.
  • Turkey Femur Integrity: A Structural and Functional Analysis—Darrin Karcher.
  • Developing an Integrated Animal Manure Operation to Produce a High-Quality and Large Quantity Lignocellulosic Feedstock for Bio-Ethanol Refinery—Wei Liao.
  • The Scoop Newsletter on Animal Agriculture and the Environment—Wendy Powers.
  • Boron Treatment of Stored Swine Manure Slurry to Reduce Hydrogen Sulfide and Conserve Ammonia Nitrogen and Sulfur on a Commercial Swine Farm—Mel Yokoyama.

The AAI is a partnership between MSU, livestock producers and industry organizations and the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

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