Penn vet receives nearly $1 mln grant to improve dairy herd sustainability

The goal is to identify high productivity cows with low emissions
calendar icon 4 August 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

University of Pennsylvania

Associate professor of ruminant nutrition Dipti Pitta at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) has received a $995,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant will enable her to lead an interdisciplinary team of animal and data scientists to establish a precision data network, with the long-term goal of identifying high-productivity dairy cows with low methane emissions. The ultimate goal is to enhance dairy herd sustainability and moderate environmental impacts.

“This funding gives us a tremendous opportunity to further evaluate microbial associations in the rumen that are essential for methane mitigation,” said Pitta. “Our team of researchers will be evaluating the behavioral activities, milk production, and feed-consumption profiles, as well as sequencing of the microbiomes and host genomes across multiple dairy herds to identify potential predictors of methane production. This comprehensive integration of very dense data sets will not only identify phenotypic responses that could reduce methane output—it could positively impact the economic health of farms and the agriculture sector. It’s a win-win.”

The study’s co-investigators are Penn Vet’s Darko Stefanovski, Linda Baker, and Joseph Bender; Cedar-Sinai’s Ryan Urbanowicz; North Carolina State University’s Stephanie Ward; and Pennsylvania State University’s Kevin Harvatine and Rob Goodling.

The grant is awarded through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Inter-Disciplinary Engagement in Animal Systems (IDEAS) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The IDEAS AFRI program funds applied science approaches, integrating knowledge from diverse disciplines, that address challenges facing the United States’ food and agriculture sector.

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