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
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
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
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
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.