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Animal food research takes integrated systems approach

Animal food research takes integrated systems approach

SPECIAL COVERAGE FROM THE AMERICAN DAIRY SCIENCE ASSN. ANNUAL MEETING: Nutrition and feeding, including all the interactions with genetics, the environment and reproduction, are central to supplying healthy and efficient animals for a healthy human population.

Research over the last 100 years has provided for tremendously detailed insight and massive data sets on all aspects of food animal production. Nutrition and feeding, including all the interactions with genetics, the environment and reproduction, are central to supplying healthy and efficient animals for a healthy human population.

Although no one or one research group can simultaneously teach or do research in all these sections, the charge to improve the security, safety and efficiency of the animal food product system dictates that several efforts integrate these systems toward a common end goal, J. McNamara of McNamara Research in Agriculture of Pullman, Wash., said in framing up the National Animal Nutrition Program (NANP) Nutrition Models Workshop held on Sunday as part of this year’s American Dairy Science Assn. annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The NANP workshop was focused on helping students and scientists at any stage of their career to more fully understand and use a variety of biological, mathematical and statistical approaches to systems biology research and education.

Many government, non-government organizations (NGOs) and private companies and organizations now are involved in and, in fact, require complex approaches to solving the complex issues of food production, noted McNamara.

Likewise, McNamara said various research and educational approaches are valid and useful, but they all make use of sound quantitative biological and statistical approaches, including various types of mathematical and statistical modeling techniques.

The NANP and the National Research Support Program exist to support and encourage excellence in education and research in animal sciences nutrition and all aspects of the food system that are integrated with that.

“We don’t feed animals in a separate system, the inputs into the animals and outputs from them are an integral part of the system as a whole,” McNamara said.

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