Megan Rolf Explains Water Effiency Study In Beef CattleThu, 12 Jun 2014 12:34:01 CDT
A lot of research has focused on feed efficiency, but a new research project funded through the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to look at water utilization by beef cattle. Oklahoma State University received a million dollar grant to look at new ways for agriculture to adapt to climate variability.
Dr. Megan Rolf, OSU animal science assistant professor is the lead investigator for the project. She recently spoke with Ron Hays of the Radio Oklahoma Network about the research project.
"We have been looking at really feed efficiency a lot within the industry, but we haven't focused much on the water side of things," Rolf said. "We don't think about it as a traditionally economically important trait, but I think as we move forward in the future, where we have a lot of water constraints due to drought or just for competition with humans, wild animals, people watering their lawns, things like that, I think water is going to become even more important as we move into the future."
The research project will focus on measuring water and feed intake on individual animals.
"To my knowledge we haven't really seen a lot of that work done in cattle yet, but they have done quite in laboratory animals, so I am pretty confident we'll have a heritable trait we can start looking at from a genetics standpoint," Rolf said.
"One of our main decision support tools is something that the Oklahoma Mesonet has already developed for Oklahoma cattle producers," Rolf said. "So hopefully we are going to work with them to refine those prediction equations and make that tool even better for producers in Oklahoma and then also expand that nationwide so that producers anywhere in the country have access to that cattle comfort advisor tool."
With the ongoing drought in Oklahoma and other states, cattle producers have already looked at ways at reducing their use of natural resources by reducing herd numbers, reducing stock rates and this project will then look at water utilization.
"I think its really going be a result of coming up with some short term management solutions that help producers today, then kinda I have seen through the extension service, several talks on drought and I think some of things they present on are very true in that we tend to get complacent when times are good and we have a lot of resources and water is abundant," Rolf said. "And some of these longer term solutions like genetic solutions and genomic solutions are things we can really use to help prepare ourself for these bad times, even when times maybe a little bit better."
"We don't want to recover the drought and forget the lessons we've learned," Rolf said.
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