Report: "Long Range Plans for International Programs in Animal Science" at the University of Florida, January 2, 1976 (8...


Material Information

Report: "Long Range Plans for International Programs in Animal Science" at the University of Florida, January 2, 1976 (8 pages)
Series Title:
Animal Science Department - Long Range Plans for International Programs in Animal Science. 1976
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Davis, George Kelso
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Box: 1
Folder: Animal Science Department - Long Range Plans for International Programs in Animal Science. 1976


Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Alachua -- Gainesville

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:

Full Text
P17 14

Long Range Plans for International Programs in Animal Science

The Animal Science Department faculty at the University of Florida is widely

recognized outside of the United States for its expertise in Tropical Animal Science.

This is especially true in the species areas of beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine

and poultry and in the discipline areas supporting these species nutrition, breed-

ing and genetics, physiology, meats, pasture and forages. Many foreign and domestic

students interested in tropical and sub-tropical animal science attend the University

as undergraduate and graduate students. Due to Florida's climatological conditions

and geographical location, much of its research and production information has

application throughout the tropical regions of the world. Likewise, some of the

research and production information that is being generated in ever increasing

quantities in similar tropical areas outside of Florida may have application within

the state of Florida.

As a result, the state of Florida's livestock industry is in an excellent posi-

tion to receive and utilize information from other tropical areas as well as to

generate and disseminate valuable information.

A few outstanding examples will help to emphasize the value of this exchange of

information. Brahman cattle, which are native to India, is the breed which has con-

tributed most to the development of the beef cattle industry in Florida. Development

of cross breeding systems with Brahman cattle has dramatically illustrated how repro-

duction and production can be greatly improved by judicious use of the Brahman breed.

Tropical pasture and forage species, few if any native to Florida, are responsible

for the pasture programs in the state. Of course, the most recent dramatic discovery

in Brazil of nitrogen fixation in many tropical grasses will probably become a multi-

million dollar discovery to Florida's livestock industry. Curtailing the international

outreach for seeking new information outside of Florida is counterpart to drastically

reducing research activities in Florida on the premise that we have most of the



Agricultural land resources are limited yet a strong case can be made that

many of the existing land resources are being poorly utilized. This has been ade-

quately documented in the report on Agricultural Growth in an Urban Age. The

acreage of range and woodland pasture currently is estimated to be about 8.7 million

acres. Various cultural practices combined with controlled grazing could improve

greatly forage and livestock production. In addition, large areas are being used

for extensive residential purposes where the land is held in 5 to 10 acre tracts.

Will the owners of these tracts be content to keep a few horses and pets or will

many be interested in raising meat-producing animals. Population pressures in tem-

perate climates of Europe and tropical climates of southeast Asia are outstanding

examples of how integrated cropping, livestock and family labor systems have been

developed for intensive agricultural production.

Does Florida's livestock production systems have the answers or should we be

making a major effort to borrow and research new ideas and concepts from other areas

of the world? Do we possess the best species and breeds of livestock or should we

consider the fact that species and breeds from other countries may possess superior

germ plasm to that found in the United States? Are there ruminants which possess

superior digestive ability to the Bos taurus and Bos indicus or should we continue

to be satisfied with the animals evolving from these two types? Should we be satis-

fied with tropical grasses and legumes currently available in the U.S. or should we

diligently seek new and improved varieties? Are grain crops the most economical

feeds for swine and poultry or are there other potentially valuable energy feeds?

Does sugar cane, one of the most efficient photosynthetic plants, have economical

potential as a ruminant feed during times of relatively low sugar prices. Do small

ruminants, sheep and goats, and fibrous consuming animals such as rabbits have a

future in the production of human food? Why do we in the U.S. continue to view horse

meat as only suitable for dog food or fertilizer? Pets are thought of primarily for

their asthetic value but couldn't many animals provide a dual function?


Populations throughout the world would probably answer these questions differ-

ently. Few answers would be based on research information because in most cases

definitive data isn't available. In a presentation on long range plans in animal

science, these items should be given serious consideration as to their future im-

portance in domestic as well as international animal science.

A. Some New Programs With the Potential of Contributing to Florida-Agriculture.

Improving production traits of Brahman cattle.

Relatively few Brahman cattle have been imported into the U.S. because of restric-

tions on importations. It is quite possible that other countries possess Brahman

type animals with superior genes for certain traits:; than those which currently exist

in the U.S. Within a few years it should be easier to import superior animals through

the Fleming Key Quarantine station in South Florida. Cooperative research projects

should be encouraged in Brazil and Venezuela or other countries which would help

to identify animals which exhibit superior fertility levels, reproductive traits,

milk production ability or carcass traits.

Study the economic potentialities of some breeds or lines of sheep and goat as
food producers in tropical areas.

Varieties of sheep and goats for food purposes are found in many of the Caribbean

Islands and other tropical areas but due to low productive and reproductive rates

their commercial production is not considered to be economical. However, there is

evidence that in some countries of the world highly productive sheep and goats have

been developed which will probably do as well in other tropical areas. Sheep and

goats are ruminants and have the inherent ability to efficiently and economically

convert forages and fibrous by-product feeds to highly nutritious animal protein. A

serious effort should be made to identify and improve potentially important breeds

or lines of sheep and goats and determine their economic potentialities for Florida

and other similar tropical regions. Sheep and goats are also recognized for grazing

habits which are different than cattle. The control of the more undesirable and


unpalatable grasses are of major concern to the Florida cattleman. Sheep and goats

should be studied as a method of controlling some of the undesirable grasses and


The role..of water buffalo for environmental improvement and meat production..... ..

in the tropics.

In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the-water buffalo

but their movements have been greatly restricted because of diseases such as foot

and mouth and rhinderpest. Today, the potential role of water buffalo for environ-

mental improvement and meat production in .Florida is primarily academic conjecture.

Published data indicates that these animals are well adapted to low, wet and marshy

areas and that they consume and can utilize lower quality vegetation than either

Bos indicus or Bos tarus. If this is true, Florida qualifies as having thousands of

acres well adapted to the raising of water buffalo. In limited studies at Florida,

water buffalo consumed cogongrass first, then water hyacinth, giant cutgrass and

cattail. A series of studies need to be conducted with significant numbers of water

buffalo to determine their potential role in Florida for environmental improvement

and meat production.

Alternative solutions to feeding cattle during dry season.

Today the number one problem limiting cattle production in Florida and the

tropics is a shortage of nutrients during the dry season. Ruminant numbers during

the rainy season are primarily limited by the feed supplies which are available

during the dry season. As a result, often there are inadequate numbers and poor for-

age utilization during the rainy season followed by too many animals, overgrazing

and starvation during the dry period. More drought tolerant plant species,conserved

forage, irrigated pastures and supplemental feeding are all practices that are being

used with varying degrees of success. However, the seriousness of the problem and

the costly solutions still remain. All potential solutions should be explored.

Sugar cane has the potential for producing more energy per unit area than any other


plant. Research with whole chopped sugar cane is being conducted in several tropical

countries to determine its potential as a ruminant feed during dry periods when the

price of sugar is relatively low. It is apparent that this should have potential

in Florida.

Alternative energy sources for swine and poultry production in the tropics.

Grains, corn, barley and sorghum, are the major sources of energy feeds for

swine and poultry production in temperate climates. Alternative energy sources have

not been developed to support monogastric production in difficult grain growing areas

of the tropics. Florida is a classic example. Swine production is/limited to the corn

growing countries in the north or is supported by corn shipped in from other states.

Alternative energy sources are available but what are their potentials under Florida con-

ditions? Average corn production in the major corn producing states is about 100

bushels per acre which is equivalent to 2.8 tons per acre. Yields of cassava of 20

tons per acre which is equivalent to 7 tons of air dry feed per acre are not uncommon.

Yields indicate that total caloric output per acre per year of well managed improved

cassava is up to three times that of corn and rice. Is cassava so difficult to

grow, harvest and feed that it doesn't have a place in livestock production systems

in Florida?

Non-conventional meat sources.

In many European countries, from which many of our ancestors came, horse meat

can be found on the menus of the best restaurants. Horse meat in the U.S. has been

relegated to pet foods, meat and bone meal and fertilizer. Is there a good scientific

explanation for our prejudice against the consumption of horse meat? With the phenom-

enal growth in numbers of horses an effort should be made to determine their value

as a source of human food. A series of studies should be made on the effects

of age, activity and finish on meat eating qualities.

Integration of crop and livestock production systems.

During the past 100 years, the trend has been toward fewer and more highly special-

ed commercial type farms and ranches. The efficient role and the contribution of these


farms to the U.S. agriculture is undisputable. However, the concept of "Five Acres

and Independence" is not dead although it has been greatly modified. There has

been recent renewed interest in small farm systems. Livestock, especially ruminants,

are an integral part of this system in that they have the ability to convert plants

and their by-products to meat and milk. Manure from these animals is a valuable

source of plant nutrients. The small family farm of the past made an important

contribution to U.S. agriculture and some modifications of this will probably make a

valuable contribution in the future. This concept is receiving increased emphasis

in Europe, Asia and Central America. We should be cognizant of these programs going

on in other parts of the world and make an effort to help develop reasonable inte-

grated crop and livestock programs for our conditions in Florida.

B. Continuation of Successful Programs

Animal Science has had a strong international oriented program and the success-
ful parts of this program should be continued.

1. Graduate training. Thirty to forty percent of the graduate students in

Animal Science are from other countries. Students or their sponsors pay out of state

tuition and in most instances additional funds to offset research expenses. More U.S.

graduate students could be accepted if more assistantships were available in Animal

Science. Therefore, more assistantships for domestic students rather than fewer for-

eign students with tuition fees paid are needed to strengthen the graduate training


2. Short Courses. The Latin American Livestock and Poultry Conference, the

Meats Short Course and the Central American Fair Short Course have all been highly

successful short course programs. These have encouraged close cooperation between

professors and students, have stimulated the dissemination of the latest information

and has helped the University of Florida and the Florida livestock industry's excel-

lent reputation. We believe these should be continued.


3. Participation in International Professional Meetings, Conferences, Seminars
and Symposiums.

Animal Science personnel have been presenting research and professional papers

at a number of international meetings. It is widely recognized that there are dis-

tinct advantages to Florida agriculture, to international agriculture and to the

professionals from this type of participation when carried on at a reasonable level.

Our concept is to try to have as many people as are interested participate in a few

meetings rather than a few participate in many. We-believe that our teaching and

research programs are enriched by this kind of participation.

4. International Program Development With Grants.

The Department of Animal Science received a 5 year grant from the United States

Agency for International Development beginning in July of 1972 to strengthen the capa-

bilities in ruminant livestock development programs for the tropics. Florida was

recognized for their expertise in animal nutrition and in forage production and

utilization. The scope of activities under this grant have included training for

regular staff, increase in faculty, experience and research in ruminant nutrition.

These funds have been used to strengthen our research, training and teaching programs

in tropical animal science. Although international activities have not been completely

self-supporting, these funds have been used to support the majority of our activities

in tropical animal science programs.

5. Research and Development Contracts Supported by Non-Florida Funds.

In 1958, an AID livestock project entitled "Survey and Analysis of the Problem

of Cattle Feeding Systems in the Wet/Dry and Humid Tropics of Latin America" was

received. This study was terminated in 1973 and resulted in the publication of the

Latin American Feed Tables which contained the chemical analysis of 3,390 tropical

feedstuffs. In December 1974, a three-year project was funded by AID to study the

mineral status of grazing ruminants in Latin America. Animal Science personnel have

participated in major contracts in Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana and Vietnam

which have been supported completely by outside funds. They have also participated

8- "8-

in outside funded research programs in Honduras and Nicaragua. Participation in

research and development programs similar to this should continue to be encouraged.

However, these major contract activities must be supported by non-Florida funds.

Cooperative research efforts which are not fully funded by non-Florida funds must

be justified on the basis of potential benefit to Florida's livestock industry.