Recent groundbreaking ceremonies for Oklahoma State University’s new Animal Nutrition & Physiology Center marked a new era for the university’s commitment to the animal agriculture industry and animal well-being in general, according to an announcement from the university.
“Best management practices depend on the continual advancement of the science that leads to improved awareness and understanding about animal needs, and their interrelationship with the environment around them,” said Tom Coon, vice president of the Oklahoma State Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. “In turn, the science behind best management practices enhances the potential profitability of animal agriculture industries while strengthening the economic base of rural communities.
“With research serving as an integral part of our Animal & Food Sciences and Natural Resource Ecology & Management programs, (Oklahoma State's) land-grant mission to tackle concerns and issues of importance to Oklahomans requires modernized facilities that allow our faculty and student researchers to conduct needed science year-round,” he said.
The new center will be a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to conducting animal studies primarily related to climate variability, production efficiency and sustainability in the areas of animal and human health; animal genetics, growth, nutrition and reproduction; and general animal well-being, the university said.
“Improvements in our ability to take observations from the field and test them in a more controlled setting stand to benefit all of Oklahoma, and beyond,” said Jim Long, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit leader. “Take fish, for example: Fish live their lives largely invisible to us, underwater. Beyond people’s enjoyment of fishing and the money visiting anglers might bring to local communities, fish often serve as indicators about the health of our water resources.”
Long pointed out how science moves at the speed science moves, and that it is important for researchers to continually advance and review “accepted scientific findings.”
“You can’t just dial up scientific discoveries on a whim,” Long said. “Our responsibility is to keep doing the science and find out facts, and those facts are then used to develop the research-based best management practices that wildlife, livestock and land managers can use to accomplish their specific goals.”
Innovations at the new center will include individual stanchions and group pens to accommodate animals of all sizes; metabolism stalls for the collection of waste and emissions; specialized rooms with total climate control from 25°F to 100°F; a surgery room to accommodate large cattle, sheep and swine; wet and dry laboratory spaces; a fishery to perform ichthyological research, and isolation rooms for livestock research under Biosafety Level 2 conditions.
In addition, the center will allow OSU students to perform and participate in intensive research projects in combination with applied animal studies at other facilities and make the university more competitive in garnering research funding.
“Increasing capabilities and research funding provides greater opportunities for (Oklahoma State) students to conduct innovative research as part of a high-quality, well-rounded education,” Coon said. “That not only benefits them and makes them more employable, it enhances the professional fields they will one day join. In turn, we all benefit.”
Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis agreed, citing how the Animal Nutrition & Physiology Center is indicative of the university’s commitment to its state and federally mandated land-grant mission.
“The land-grant mission is as vital today as ever, and the new center represents one of our many ongoing efforts to provide value to (Oklahoma State) students and all of Oklahoma, and beyond,” he said.