Genetics & Animal Breeding
Faculty Research Publications
Ruminant animals have always had a unique place in animal agriculture because of their ability to efficiently digest fibrous plant materials. Studies in ruminant nutrition range from cellular limitations in nutrient assimilation to forage use by grazing animals, namely cattle and sheep. Specific areas of research include:
- regulation and limitations of nutrient absorption and digestion.
- optimizing forage availability and utilization, particularly fescue.
- evaluation of nutrient requirements and management of the dairy cow.
- study of protein, vitamin, and mineral nutrition.
- incorporation of alternative feeds into ruminant diets.
Specialties within Ruminant Nutrition
Horses are an important part of the agricultural economy in Kentucky as well as the rest of the nation, and the University of Kentucky has long been a premier institution for equine research. Outstanding research facilities include a large horse herd, ample individual housing, analytical laboratory and 6-horse exerciser. Research with the horse focuses on nutrition with projects including:
- factors affecting muscle protein synthesis
- nutrient requirements during growth, reproduction, and exercise.
- dietary management procedures that improve digestion, growth and performance.
- dietary management procedures that minimize environmental impact of horses and horse farming
Specialties within Equine Nutrition
Research in non-ruminant nutrition involves studies with swine and poultry. Discoveries from both basic and applied research are integrated into feeding programs to maximize the rate and efficiency of meat and egg production and to optimize reproductive performance. Research projects currently include:
- evaluation of nutrient requirements.
- bioavailablity of nutrients.
- interrelations of nutrients with genetics and environmental factors.
- efficacy of growth and carcass modifiers.
- nutritional properties of feed ingredients.
Specialties within Non-ruminant Nutrition
Physiology research includes both the fields of reproductive and lactational physiology. The reproductive physiology group includes research and extension faculty who conduct both basic and applied research with beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine and sheep. Research ranges from field trials with cooperating commercial herds to in vitro studies at the cellular and molecular levels. The focus of the lactational physiology program is on prevention and control of mastitis and on bovine immunity. Primary areas of research interest include:
- regulation of puberty onset.
- endocrine control of uterine function.
- enhancement of sperm fertility.
- nutritional and environmental factors influencing disease resistance in cattle.
- applied studies on mastitis prevention and control.
Specialties within Physiology
Exercise Physiology (equine)
- Reproduction (beef, and dairy)
Genetics and Animal Breeding
Research is oriented primarily towards evaluation of various beef cattle genetic types when managed on endophytic‑tall fescue.
Specialties within Genetics and Animal Breeding
Quantitative beef cattle genetics
The Food Science program integrates a strong basic research program with applied research in areas related to foods derived from animals and other important agricultural products. Food Science research is essential to the efficient utilization of valuable agricultural products and adding value to low‑quality raw materials. The number of jobs in the field of food science has historically exceeded the number of Food Science graduates.
Specialties within Food Science
- dairy technology - cheese yield and medium development; prevention of culture agglutination and inhibition of virus proliferation.
- food chemistry - identification and control of lipid‑derived flavor compounds; lipid‑protein interactions.
- food microbiology - identification of methods for extending the shelf‑life of foods.
- food safety - identification of methods for preventing food borne illness.
- meat biochemistry - postmortem protein changes and meat tenderness; functional performance of oxidized proteins.
meat processing - identification of methods to improve the value of low‑quality raw materials; development of low‑fat meats.