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100 billion animals: What the data say about GE feeds

By Jacquelyn Prestegaard, ASAS Communications

Genetically engineered (GE) crops are amongst agriculture’s most disputed topics. Their use directly impacts the livestock industry as “food-producing animals consume 70 to 90% of the GE crop biomass.” Since their introduction in 1996, some 100 billion sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, quail, cattle, water buffalo, rabbits, and fish have consumed GE crops.

University of California-Davis geneticist Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam and research associate Ms. Amy E. Young analyzed GE feedstuffs in one of the most comprehensive reviews of its kind. Their paper, “Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations,” appeared in October’s edition of the Journal of Animal Science. The paper highlights the most significant data compiled about livestock feed, both conventional and non-conventional, over the last 29 years. Read more

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Tail docking in feedlot cattle: Examining an animal welfare concern

By Samantha Walker, ASAS Communications

Feedlot operations in the Midwestern United States, especially in states close to the Great Lakes, opt for slatted-floor facilities instead of open feedlots. Dr. Daniel Grooms, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, said there are four major reasons why these facilities are used.

First, slatted-floor facilities are environmentally friendly and important to water security. “These slatted-floor facilities allow us to more tightly control manure runoff because all the feces and urine go into large pits, which are underneath the facilities,” Grooms said. “So it’s all captured and contained with much less risk of it running off into streams, creeks and ultimately the Great Lakes.” Read more


Effects of frame-size and time-on-pasture on carcass and beef traits of grass-fed beef

By Anne Zinn, ASAS Communications

A two-year study appearing in the October issue of the Journal of Animal Science examined the effects of frame size and time-on-pasture (TOP) on carcass composition and tenderness in a forage-based finishing system.

A major challenge in pasture-based beef production systems is the determination of a slaughter endpoint and its impact on beef quality. Traditional slaughter endpoints in feedlot finishing systems utilizing high-concentrate diets are related to external fat thickness, live weights, and established percentages of cattle grading Choice. However, based on comparisons with grain-fed finishing systems, the use of these traditional indicators for slaughter endpoints may not be practical in a grass-fed finishing system. Read more

Recent Articles


JAS 25 most-read articles

JAS_headerHere is a list of the 25 most-read articles in the Journal of Animal Science, as of September 1, 2014: Read more »


JAS 25 most-cited articles

JAS_headerHere are the 25 most-cited Journal of Animal Science articles, as of September 1, 2014: Read more »

National Science Foundation

EAGER funding—High success rate for unique ideas

By Kris Johnson and Deb Hamernik, ASAS Public Policy Committee

Do you have a novel or transformational idea that you need seed dollars for? The National Science Foundation (NSF) may be the place to go. In an August 20, 2014 article in ScienceInsider, Jeffery Mervis discusses the NSF EAGER program. (EAGER stands for Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research.) EAGER grants are a vehicle for untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. Such high-risk, high-payoff research often entails radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. Read more »


National Academy of Science releases AFRI study

Written by Lowell Randel, FASS Science Policy Director

On September 9th, the National Academy of Science (NAS) released a study entitled “Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program.” The study was commissioned by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and is designed to perform an independent assessment of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, including the quality and value of research funded by the program and the prospects for its success in meeting established goals and outcomes. Read more »


Safety Stand-Down targets biosafety

By Clint Krehbiel, ASAS Public Policy Committee

In August, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture encouraged its partners to participate in a U.S. Government “Safety Stand-Down.” The Safety Stand-Down was issued in a memorandum by Lisa O. Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. The memorandum instructed all Federal Departments and Agencies that possess, use, or transfer human, animal, or plant infectious agents or toxins to perform a Safety Stand-Down. Read more »