The primary emphasis of Lincoln University's animal science research is centered on sustainable small ruminant, aquaculture, and poultry production systems. The small ruminant programs are focused on selections for lean meat growth, resistance to foot rot and gastrointestinal parasite infection, improvement of organic production performance, out-of-season breeding and reproductive efficiency. The aim of the aquaculture project is to enhance farmed food-fish production methods and feed efficiency. The role of the poultry project is to conduct feasibility investigations for outdoor pasture-based poultry production on small farms. These studies are highly integrated between research, extension, and education at Lincoln University as well as cooperation with producers and other institutions.
Tumen Wuliji, PhD., Principal Investigator: Breeding small ruminants for lean meat, disease resistant, and out-of-season production. The following objectives are being investigated: (1). Evaluation of lean meat selection response and efficiency in Katahdin sheep. This project is to investigate the efficiency of lean meat selection, develop a lean meat breeding index, and demonstrate a sustainable lamb production system. A live scanned ultrasonographic measure of loin muscle area, width, depth, and backfat thickness (over 12th-13th rib) traits were formulated for an expected progeny difference (EPDs) value for preliminary selection lists. The lean sheep muscle selection project will facilitate the selection of animals for greater muscling, higher ADG and growth, and the yielding of heavier lamb carcasses with high-valued shelf products. (2). Feasibility study – an out-of-season breeding system for organic lamb production. This project initiative will help producers to increase the profitability by increasing the supply of lamb and cabrito to the marketplace on a year-round basis. Animal performance and health will be monitored by regular body weight, ADG, body condition score, fecal eggs count and FAMACHA® scoring. Also, fall lamb production regimen could be coincided with favorite forage growth and grass feeding, and avoid the gastrointestinal parasitism and the use of anthelmintics. (3). DNA marker assisted selection for foot rot resistant sheep flock. Foot rot is a highly contagious disease, infecting sheep, goats, cattle, and some wild ungulates. This objective is to conduct genetic screening, identification, and DNA marker (DQA2 gene marker) assisted selection of foot rot resistant genotypes within sheep breeds or flocks. Resistance heritability and other correlated parameters in relation to the gene marker or immune response parameters will be estimated. (4). Sustainable gastrointestinal parasite control in small ruminants.
Jessica Epple-Farmer, PhD., Principal Investigator: Feasibility study – Examining nanoparticle purification of ram semen for improved artificial insemination. The goal of this study is to evaluate a nanoparticle-based magnetic purification method that removes defective and/or prematurely capacitated spermatozoa from ram semen prior to cryopreservation. The hypothesis being that utilization of this nano-purification technique will improve fertility, thereby allowing for a 50% reduction in semen used for artificial insemination. To accomplish this goal, the presence of proven negative biomarkers on ram spermatozoa must first be validated. Then using the most apparent negative biomarkers, construct coated nanoparticles with antibody or lectin probes and analyze the sperm fractions using a flow cytometer to determine the success of nanoparticle-purification. Finally, the purification technique will be applied to ram semen used for artificial insemination, cryopreservation, and in vitro fertilization. Once the nanoparticle purification procedure is successfully optimized to the sheep production system, the technique should allow farmers in the field setting to better assess ram fertility prior to freezing for artificial insemination or use for natural mating.
Raquel Lourencon, PhD., Principal Investigator: Effects of creep feeding or creep grazing on the performance of organically raised sheep. This project is to evaluate the effect and efficiency of creep feeding for organic sheep production. Adequate nutrition and good management are essential to promote animal health and optimize growth rates, especially in an organic system. Creep feeding and creep grazing are management strategies to provide better quality feeds to the offspring in an area that excludes the dam. It is hypothesized that supplementation of concentrate feeds as creep feeding will improve lamb growth traits and creep grazing with legumes/grass mix pasture will lead to more efficient and cost-effective organic meat production.
James Wetzel, PhD., Principal Investigator: Promoting food-fish performance through market-size using alternative feedstuffs. This project is to evaluate larval Darkling Beetle Tenebrio molitor frass, Hemp Cannabis sativa seed and soybean protein concentrate as for replacers of fishmeal and plant derived binders to promote pellet integrity post-ingestion for fish species with potential for production and marketing as food in the Midwest by completing the following objectives: (a) to compare value of Darkling Beetle frass, hemp seed meal, and soybean protein concentrate as replacers for fishmeal in fingerling diets; (b) to compare tapioca flour and carrageenan in feed formulations with optimal particle milling size on growth performance, nutrient leaching and gastric emptying in fingerling Largemouth Bass; (c) to rear rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Black Crappie through market size using Darkling Beetle frass and hemp seed meal as significant portions of the respective feed formulations; (d) to demonstrate processing and sales of food-fish to producers and consumers.
Tatijana Fisher, PhD., Principal Investigator: Feasibility study - Use of heritage breeds for pasture-based poultry production on small farms. The main objectives of this research are to (1) identify common production practices used and challenges faced by small-flock poultry producers in Missouri, (2) evaluate the suitability of dual-purpose heritage breed chickens for small-scale, pasture-based egg and meat production, (3) evaluate the use of mobile and day-range pastured poultry models for egg production, and (4) determine consumer acceptance and willingness to purchase heritage breed chicken meat. Together, this information can be used to develop a model to help small-flock producers make economic and agribusiness management decisions regarding the profitability and sustainability of using heritage breeds in pastured poultry production systems.
Eric Walters, PhD., Principal Investigator: Development of new gene editing tools such as the meganucleases, CRISPRs, TALENs, and ZFN have allowed for the production of many economically important agricultural models as well as biomedical models for human health and diseases. We know that genetics play a critical role in the phenotype of the organism whether its domestic livestock or humans. In humans, many of the diseases have been characterized in terms of the genetic mutation(s) causing the various disease phenotypes. However, in domestic livestock such as small ruminants, little to no data has been collected on economically important phenotypic traits. Understanding the genetic control of the economically important phenotypic traits in small ruminants will allow us the ability to improve animal health and production. The main objectives of my research: (1) to investigate the immunoregulation of the female reproductive system in response to breeding, embryonic and placental development, and maintenance of pregnancy, (2) to investigate the genetic control of seasonality of sheep by identifying gene(s) that are critical for seasonality, which will allow producers to use these gene(s) in marker-assisted selection breeding programs, and (3) gene editing of small ruminants and swine for the production of economically important agricultural and biomedical models.
Food & Agricultural Science National Needs Graduate Fellowship (NNF):
Funding for USDA NNF fellowships for the Master of Science (MS) degree in Sustainable Agriculture were granted to Lincoln University of Missouri.
Starting May 1, 2021, there will be six fellowship awards available to applicants who have United States citizenship and are pursuing a MS in Integrated Agriculture at Lincoln University of Missouri, Graduate Studies. This award offers two years of support for applicants officially accepted for the scholarship.
Application for the fellowship award is open until April 30, 2023, unless all six applicants have been officially accepted for the award prior to this date.
The fellowship's stipend level is maintained as NNF grant stipulation. The MS candidates can select or emphasize their research project or choose specialization in small ruminants, aquaculture or poultry production. Graduates or graduating seniors of agriculture, animal science, biology or any other related field will be considered for these awards.
The candidates will be selected in accordance to the Lincoln University graduate student administration criteria and policy. Minorities and students of underserved communities are especially encouraged to apply for the scholarships.
For inquiry or more information:
Dr. Tumen Wuliji, Program Director, Associate Professor
The College of Agriculture, Environmental & Human Sciences
Lincoln University of Missouri WulijiT@LincolnU.edu or (573) 681-5377