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USDA Grant to Help UF Scientists Increase Beef Cattle Reproduction

Dan Beef, Cattle, Economy, Education, Florida

usda beef cattle

A University of Florida animal scientist and his colleagues are trying to help ranchers produce beef more consistently by improving their herd’s reproductive performance. And this is possible thanks to a $650,000 grant they received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to try to increase beef cattle reproduction.

“We anticipate finding tools that beef producers can use to increase pregnancy success in cow-calf operations,” said Mario Binelli, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of animal science. “Because reproductive efficiency is key to competitive beef cow-calf operations, new strategies and tools generated through successful completion of our proposed research are expected to contribute directly to long-range improvement and sustainability of U.S. agriculture and food systems.”

The grant will help them study ways to make sure embryos thrive in cattle uteri.

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Binelli will have help on the research project from Philipe Moriel, an associate professor at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center and Peter Hansen, a distinguished professor in Gainesville.

One main reason why female cattle don’t reproduce well is because they can’t grow embryos, and therefore, maintain a pregnancy. Most cattle reproductive failure happens during early gestation because the uterus is not receptive to embryos.

“We need to define the nature and abundance of molecules present inside the uterus when a pregnancy succeeds,” Binelli said.  “We’re testing whether cattle are more or less likely to become pregnant, based on how the uterus works and what’s inside it. With such evidence, we hope to generate non-genomic markers to better identify and select high-fertility females in beef herds.

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When UF/IFAS researchers are done with this four-year project, scientists globally may use the new data to research such factors as the influence of breeds, season, stress, lactation, synchronization strategies, nutritional strategies and energy on the uterine environment and its ability to support pregnancy.