W1173: Stress Factors of Farm Animals and Their Effects on Performance
Statement of Issues and JustificationEnvironmental and management stressors erode efficiency and cost livestock production enterprises billions of dollars annually in lost potential profitability. For example, in the absence of heat abatement measures, total losses across all animal classes averaged $2.4 billion annually (St-Pierre et al., 2003). Of the total, reduction in milk production potential represented a major portion of the losses to the dairy industry, averaging $897 to $1500 million (St-Pierre et al., 2003). Moreover, adverse weather conditions including both the effects of hot and cold climatic conditions are particularly difficult for confinement beef cattle feeding enterprises. Over the past 10 yr, Mader (2003) reported that harsh climatic conditions cost the beef feedlot industry between $10 million to $20 million annually. Both enteric and viral diseases of pigs, particularly in the nursery and grow-finish phase, erode performance efficiency costing the swine industry millions as a result of production inefficiency, and many of these diseases are exacerbated by management stressors (Dritz et al., 2002; Neumann et al., 2005). Finally, thoroughly understanding stress-associated mechanisms of immune system function and increased susceptibility of livestock to disease is now more important than ever in that the majority of emerging animal diseases have proven to be zoonotic diseases, and therefore threaten public health. Clearly, the objectives outlined in the current proposal address both critical aspects of responses of livestock to environmental and management stressors, and examine viable management interventions and alternatives to mitigate the detrimental effects of these challenges. This collaborative group of scientists spans a broad range of disciplinary training, and the group proposes cross-station experiments that run the gamut from very basic cellular/molecular questions to very applied investigative aims. Thus, outcomes of this multi-state project can reasonably be expected to broadly impact production practices and improve profitability across diverse livestock commodity sectors.
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