Lincoln University Cooperative Research
The primary emphasis of Lincoln’s animal science research is centered on goat and hair sheep production systems. The main programs areas are footrot and parasite resistance selection, grazing performance, and reproductive efficiency. The general objectives are to establish genetic footrot disease resistance in hair sheep with DNA marker assisted selection, divergent selection for internal parasite resistance in goats, improving grazing efficiency, and reducing embryonic waste in small ruminant animals. These studies are highly integrated between research, extension, and education at Lincoln University as well as cooperation with other universities.
Footrot resistant sheep (Tumen Wuliji)
Foot rot is a highly contagious disease, infecting sheep, goats, cattle, and some wild ungulates. The focus of this project is to conduct genetic screening, identification, and DNA marker assisted selection of foot rot resistant genotypes within hair sheep breeds or flocks, and establishing a line of sheep with high resistance to foot rot disease. Resistance heritability and other correlated parameters in relation to the gene marker or immune response parameters will be estimated. The project has implemented its initial breeding plan and gene marker screening tests for the base flocks. Genetic selection for foot rot resistance in sheep may result in developing a strain of sheep that are able to thrive and perform better in the Midwestern farming environment.
Parasite resistant goats (Bruce Shanks)
Goats are popular with small landowners and fit well into forage-based production systems in the central United States, including Missouri. However, goats are particularly susceptible to infection by gastrointestinal parasites. Traditionally, parasites have been controlled using commercial chemicals, but there are increasing concerns about parasite populations developing resistance to these chemicals. A research project has been initiated to utilize the host animals natural or acquired immunity through a selection program to increase the level of parasite resistance. Genetically selecting goats for improved parasite resistance may provide producers with a novel option for alleviating the negative effects of parasitism, may reduce commercial chemical dependence, and would be compatible with the modern trends toward sustainable agriculture production.
Small ruminants grazing efficiency (James Caldwell)
The most promising alternative to feeding stored feedstuffs is to extend the grazing season. However, much of the tall fescue used for stockpiling is infected with the endophytic fungus Neotyphodium coenophialum (E+) that negatively impacts animal performance despite its good nutritive value. There is limited research that has been conducted to provide information about benefits and utility of stockpiling E+, NE+, or Persist orchardgrass for small ruminants. This project is to investigate the effect of forage type (E+, NE+, and ‘Persist’ orchardgrass) on forage quality, quantity and, persistence; and evaluate growth and reproductive performance by small ruminants grazing either stockpiled E+, NE+, or ‘Persist’ orchardgrass. This project also helps to discover the susceptibility goats and sheep have to endophyte toxins, especially with regard to performance and reproductive losses in these animals.
Reducing embryonic loss in goats (Aimee Wurst and Charlotte Clifford-Rathert)
Embryonic and fetal mortality are large sources of economic loss in the livestock industry. Although current estimates of embryonic and fetal wastage in goats are similar to those found in sheep studies, detailed real-time evaluations of pregnancy loss have not been conducted. This project involves real-time ultrasonographic examination of pregnant does throughout gestation in order to discover embryonic and fetal loss patterns in goats. Current results support earlier findings that embryonic and fetal wastage in goats may be a significant problem for some herds. Further, preliminary data suggests that these losses occur at a different rate than those found in sheep, and that losses seem to primarily occur relatively late in pregnancy.
LH detection in sheep (Zahra Afrasiabi)
This project is to develop a nanosensor for accurate and sensitive detection of luteinizing hormone (LH) in ewes and does. The calorimetric nanosensors consist of gold nanoparticles conjugated to an anti-LH antibody. Nanosensors based on gold nanoparticles can detect LH in femtomolar quantities in real time, thus providing an opportunity to detect the appropriate time to breed. This approach will offer a unique nanoparticle mediated modality for the detection of LH. This nanosensor has the potential to be highly beneficial and could result in increased use of artificial insemination by small farm family operations.