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Department of Animal Sciences

dairy calf

Rumen Development

Rumen Development Research

Synchronized microbial, morphological, and metabolic developments of the rumen are three vital processes that must occur for pre-ruminants to become ruminants. Little is currently known about how each of the three processes occurs and how they may synergize to affect calf growth and nutrient utilization, two processes important to comprehend for future productivity. The long-term goal of Drs. Zhongtang Yu and William Weiss is to better explain the process of rumen development by examining rumen microbial populations, anatomy, and physiology as affected by diet.

Drs. Alejandro Relling and Anthony Parker are examining improving lamb performance through fetal programming. Fetal programing is a practice in which nutrition of the dam affects her offspring. Supplementation with different types of fatty acids at different stages of production can change growth rates, the composition of growth and can be used as a tool to improve farm profitability. Also this opens up a new line of nutrition research in which fatty acids may be used not only as an energy source, but also as possible regulators of animal physiology.