D.C. June 3, 2004, ARS News Service: The Agricultural
Research Service opened a new 2,300-square-foot Farm
Animal Behavior and Well-Being Laboratory today in West
Lafayette, Ind., for the study of stress indicators
in livestock. Researchers at the new laboratory also
study the relationship between stress and the ability
of pathogenic bacteria to establish themselves in animals.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
The new facility adjoins a 10,000-square-foot laboratory
built in 1997 to house ARS' Livestock Behavior Research
Unit, which conducts behavioral studies of swine, cattle
Purdue University animal scientists work alongside
ARS scientists on the Purdue campus and at the Purdue
Animal Science Farm about 15 miles north of the main
campus. Purdue hosted a dedication ceremony today for
its Swine Environmental Research Building, located on
the university farm near the new ARS laboratory.
ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling said the
new ARS lab will complement the behavioral studies under
way in the animal lab to find possible objective measures
of animal stress.
"Stress in livestock can lower productivity and
possibly increase the risk of contamination from Salmonella
and other bacterial pathogens," Knipling said.
Donald C. Lay, research leader and animal behavioralist
at the lab, is working on an imaging system to show
the movement of Salmonella bacteria through live pigs.
He and colleagues are also researching alternative housing
for poultry and livestock.
In tandem with the housing research, the ARS-Purdue
team is pioneering the idea of breeding nonaggressive
animals to reduce losses and stress. This includes selecting
sows whose maternal behavior makes them less likely
to injure their piglets, a problem that costs farmers
more than $600 million annually.