Animal feed and nutritional research gets millions in USDA funding

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT


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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supporting the exploration of enhanced animal nutrition with $6.6m in research grants.

The grants​ announced last week came through the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program on Animal Nutrition, Growth and Lactation, which is run by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Research areas of interest for the AFRI include studying how animals use the nutrients in their feed; improving the use of traditional feed; exploring opportunities to use non-traditional feedstuffs; increasing the quality and efficiency of producing meat, milk and eggs; and mitigating metabolic disorders.

The overall goal of the grant program is to support research, projects and educational initiatives and to create a more sustainable and economically viable system for animal production said Steven Smith, national program leader in the division of animal systems at NIFA.

“It is imperative to develop innovative, safe and sustainable management strategies for livestock, crops, and critical underlying resources,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “These will come through research, both basic and applied. Basic research builds our national infrastructure of knowledge, enabling US innovation.”

Globally, agriculture needs to expand output by about 70% to meet expected food needs by 2050, said Smith.  

“This foundation is essential for applied research which takes basic knowledge and targets specific problems faced by our producers of crops and livestock, creating solutions,” ​he added

The grant process for those seeking a 2016 bursary will be presented in the upcoming AFRI Foundational Program FY2016 - the request for applications​ should be available later this month, said Smith. 

Funded projects 

In last year's grant cycle, 15 projects were awarded monies out of a reviewed field of 90 applicants, said Smith.

Projects that received funding in the 2015 round included one looking at how zinc supplementation can support cattle growth. A team at Dartmouth College was funded to explore use of a co-product of microalgae production for use in fish feed. The group is looking at nutritional and anti-nutrient properties of the product to feed tilapia.

Other projects backed include one from South Dakota State University, researchers there are exploring how beef cattle digest starch. And a team from the University of Wyoming received funding to look at the role of genetics on ruminal microbes and calf performance.

Once the applications are submitted, they are checked to ensure they meet essential criteria by a peer review panel.

“Their review considers a number of factors, including scientific merit of the application, the qualifications of project personnel, adequacy of facilities, project management and relevance,”​ he said. 

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1 comment

How will these innovations be commercialized?

Posted by Amanda Roche,

I am curious, perhaps in a follow up article, about how industry will be able to take the applications from these grant research projects and commercialize these new products? And the difficulties they may face due to CVM's stringent regulation of feed as food or drug...

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