Alliance to more than double research, outreach investment in Michigan’s animal agriculture industry

The Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA) has announced it will invest nearly $1.5 million in 2017, more than twice the amount of previous years, to support research and outreach to benefit the animal agriculture industry in Michigan.

Ronald Erskine

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA) has announced it will invest nearly $1.5 million in 2017, more than twice the amount of previous years, to support research and outreach to benefit the animal agriculture industry in Michigan.

Eighteen projects have been selected for funding through a competitive grant process.

“We’re pleased with the quality of the grant applications submitted this year, and though the selection process was difficult, I’m confident this research and outreach will help in boosting the sustainability, efficiency and profitability of the Michigan animal agriculture industry,” said George W. Smith, associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and associate director of MSU AgBioResearch.

The alliance works to enhance economic impact and sustainability of animal agriculture in Michigan and addresses critical issues facing the industry such as antimicrobial resistance, emerging infectious diseases and animal welfare. 

The following work, conducted by MSU faculty and/or MSU Extension staff members, has been selected:

  • Janice Siegford, associate professor of animal behavior and animal welfare – Impacts of extended pullet housing on production, behavior and welfare; Can laying hens adapt to aviaries if they have already begun to lay in a pullet housing facility?
  • James Pursley, professor of reproductive management of dairy cattle – Impact of body condition loss during early lactation on embryonic survival following first and subsequent artificial insemination services.
  • Robert Tempelman, professor of statistical genetics and animal breeding – Use of mid-infrared spectral data to improve milk nutritional value, reproduction and health outcomes in Michigan dairy cattle.
  • Juan Steibel, associate professor of animal breeding, statistical genetics and molecular genetics, and Janice Siegford, associate professor of animal behavior and animal welfare – Automating detection of social behavior phenotypes and improving modeling of indirect genetic effects to breed swine for less aggression in group housing.
  • Michael Allen, distinguished professor of dairy cattle nutrition – Modulating metabolic stress in early postpartum period through dietary strategies; Hepatic metabolism of propionate in relation to the control of feeding behavior of dairy cows in postpartum period.
  • Paul Bartlett, professor of large animal clinical sciences, and Steven Rust, professor of beef cattle nutrition and management – Use of real-time chute-side differential blood counts to reduce mass antimicrobial treatments of feedlot cattle.
  • Michael Vandehaar, professor of dairy nutrition and metabolism – Increasing the profitability and efficiency of protein use of lactating dairy cows; Feed intake prediction system to identify inefficient cows on commercial farms.
  • Adam Lock, professor of dairy cattle nutrition – How does long-term feeding of palmitic acid to post-peak dairy cows impact milk production, body weight gain, lipolysis and inflammation?; Does the interaction between supplemental amino acids and fatty acids alter nutrient efficiency and the yield of milk components of dairy cows?
  • Brian Nielsen, professor of equine exercise physiology – Quantifying weekly exercise necessary for equine skeletal strength.
  • Jeannine Schweihofer, meat quality Extension educator and adjunct assistant professor of animal science – Developing a pilot workforce training program for meat cutters.
  • Christine Skelly, associate professor of animal science and adult equine Extension specialist – Developing a model to revise MSU Extension online curriculum to meet MSU accessibility standards.
  • Stanley Moore, senior Extension dairy educator – Monitoring cow performance during milking to evaluate and improve worker training, cow udder health and milk quality.
  • Ronald Erskine, professor of large animal clinic sciences – Herd-specific employee education and training for milk protocols.
  • Catherine Ernst, professor of molecular genetics – Transcriptional profiling and investigation of RNA editing in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of swine after mixing into new social groups.
  • Ming Yang, assistant professor of animal science – Regulation of estradiol production and primordial follicle formation by microRNAs in bovine fetal ovaries.

M-AAA — a partnership of the Michigan Allied Poultry Industry, the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Horse Industry, the Michigan Meat Association, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, the Michigan Pork Producers Association, the Michigan Sheep Breeders Association, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and MSU — was formed in 2014 to address critical and emerging issues limiting the state’s animal agriculture industry.

Because of increased support from the state of Michigan, M-AAA was able to more than double project funding this year compared to $600,000 per year in 2014-2016.

“This unique collaboration, while relatively new, is making progress and showing impacts on a major sector of Michigan’s agriculture industry,” Smith said. “When you look at external grant funding, animal agriculture typically receives less than 1 percent. Fortunately, we’ve been able to garner additional support to make further strides on behalf of the state’s animal agriculture producers.” 

Ron Bates, director of agriculture and agribusiness for MSU Extension, said that the funding provided by the M-AAA has a direct effect on Michigan’s economy.

“This year’s grant cycle allowed us to offer job training in several areas — specifically, for the dairy and meat industries,” he said. “That means that existing dairy farm employees and meat cutters can learn ways to do their jobs more effectively, and it allows us to train new people who may be interested in jobs in these important economic sectors.”

The economic impact of the Michigan animal agriculture industry — dairy, cattle, sheep, turkeys, chickens, swine, eggs and horses — is estimated at $5.7 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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