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PRESS RELEASE -- Animal Industry Day 2001

Livestock Update, June 2001

Larry A. Lawrence, Extension Animal Scientist, Horses, VA Tech

As family farms decrease in number, rural America is faced with a declining workforce. This is happening with a background of ever increasing technical advances in Agriculture. Careers in the animal industry and agriculture are not just the traditional "hands on" jobs of our grandparents. They require very specialized training.

The 2001 Department of Animal and Poultry Science Animal Industry Day is scheduled for Friday, July 13 at the Virginia Tech Livestock Center, Plantation Road, on the Campus of Virginia Tech. This year's program is dedicated to Dr. Gary Minish. The program kicks-off with registration from 8:30 to 9:30 am. Dr. Dave Notter, Interim Department Head will update participants on the state of the department. Dr. William Camp will discuss the Governor's School for Agriculture, a program designed to attract talented Virginia students into Agriculture. Dr. Andy Swiger, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will put the 2000-2001 year in perspective with a review of the state of the college. University President, Dr. Charles Steger, will describe his vision for the University. The keynote address will be presented by Dr. Tom Field, Associate Professor at Colorado State University. Dr Field has published over 140 articles and 150 invited presentations on careers in agriculture and beef cattle management.

Dr. Field sees animal agriculture and rural America dealing with dramatic structural changes. He believes now is the time for the best and brightest to commit to building a new future for animal agriculture. Dr. Field predicts that the complex expectations of society will require transformational thinking to survive in the future.

Modern agriculturalist must be creative because future solutions to industry issues are going to result from the combination of traditional and innovative approaches. He encourages agriculturalist to seek out the common economic opportunities of the past and to explore new options. He feels the need for the agriculturist citizen has never been greater.

As agriculture enters the 21st century, the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences is addressing the issues of the present day agriculture and anticipating the challenges of the future. Recent new Faculty hired by the department are on the cutting edge of knowledge and technology. It is imperative that we meet the future head-on with directed research, teaching and extension goals and objectives designed to insure prosperity in rural American.

Dr. Curtis Novak is a poultry extension specialist. He coordinates applied research to address industry's concerns. Two issues today are environmental and animal welfare. Environmental concerns include nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Both phosphorus and nitrogen are used in poultry feed. It is difficult and costly to dispose of excess nutrients. Policies are being developed to control contamination of streams, ponds, and the water. Nutritional management is one way to reduce pollution. Animal welfare is also an on going concern. The McDonalds Corporation among others wants to regulate how poultry and livestock are cared for as the result of public opinion. New managerial and nutritional regulations may improve animal well-being.

Dr. Scott Radcliffe will discuss research in swine nutrition that attempts to minimize the environmental impact of swine production through nutritional means. His laboratory uses pigs fitted with cannulas that allow for the collection of digesta from the end of the small intestine. This combined with more applied work, allow the Swine Nutrition Laboratory to evaluate the effect of various dietary changes on nutrient digestibility and excretion.

The old saying "no two persons are the same" also applies to chickens and turkeys according to Dr. Ed Smith. So what makes one chicken get sick and the other not? We are trying to answer this question using chickens selected over 29 generations by University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Dr. Paul Siegel, for high and low antibody titers. Answering this question may help reduce the use of vaccines and the need for antibiotics in the poultry industry. Dr. Smith will also talk about a new program begun by Dr. Wong and himself to increase the interest of high school students in agriculture.

Dr. Audrey McElroy is investigating mechanisms of disease resistance in poultry. Salmonella and Campylobacter are associated with food-borne illness from poultry products. Coccidia, which causes dramatic losses in the poultry industry is also a concern. Current research includes the identification of cells in the chicken gut in response to intestinal pathogens and the development of immunity. Their primary research program involves the investigation of intestinal mechanisms of immunity, by vaccine administration, dietary inclusions, or other means. The overall goal is to increase bird health and productivity through non-antibiotic means. As a means of non-antibiotic disease resistance, they are investigating capsaicin as a dietary additive to increase resistance to Salmonella. Capsaicin has been identified as having medicinal properties in humans. Interestingly, birds do not have the pain response to the pepper extract that humans do. Initial studies have show that including capsaicin in the diet of broilers resulted in increased resistance to Salmonella.

Dr. Rhonda Hoffman states that the horse evolved for 55 million years as a grazing animal with forage being its primary food. Variations in pasture quality make it necessary to supplement their forage diet. Dr. Hoffman will discuss research at Virginia Techs M.A.R.E. Center that is working to understand optimal nutrition of grazing horses. She will report on the advantages of a concentrate rich in fat and fiber developed at the M.A.R.E. Center. The special supplement has resulted in smoother growth curves, enhanced milk composition, moderated hormonal changes associated with starchy meals and improved behavior.

The 2001 Field Day will provide an excellent opportunity to catch up on the latest efforts at Virginia Tech, visit the trade show and see old friends and alumni.

The Virginia Cattle Industry Board, Virginia Poultry Federation and the Virginia Pork Industry Board are sponsoring a complimentary beef, pork and chicken barbecue at noon. During this time, Ms. Pam Umberger, a professional horse trainer and instructor at Virginia Tech, will be demonstrating the finer points of driving. She will discuss several types of hitches including single, tandem and others. She will describe the advantages of each and talk about the preparation and training of driving horses.

Plan on attending the 2001 Animal Industry Day to learn more about one of the top agricultural industry in Virginia. The afternoon sessions will adjourn at 2:55 pm. For further information contact Dr. Dan Eversole at 540/231-4738.

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