USDA Forage Research Unit at UK has Equine Focus

UK is home to a unique USDA research unit that focuses a large portion of of its forage research on horses.

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The University of Kentucky (UK) is home to a unique on-campus U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research unit that focuses a significant portion of its research on horses. It is the only unit in the country to have an equine focus within its traditional forage-based national mandate. The USDA Forage-Animal Production Research Unit (FAPRU) works in collaboration with UK on key forage-equine research projects.

"Only this unit in Lexington has a significant equine emphasis. A few focus on disease, but this unit is the only one that focuses on forage-based production issues," said James Strickland, PhD, the unit’s research leader. "The mission is to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of U.S. forage-based enterprises. The primary focus is on improving the efficiency of utilization of forage by cattle, horses, sheep, and goats while protecting the environment, including soil and water.

"Forage animals take a dietary product we can’t use and convert it to something we can use. They are productive at converting a nonfood product (forage) to edible human food products and fiber (meat, milk, leather) on land that is marginal or even unsuited to grain crop production and provide for entertainment and leisure time activities in the case of the equine industry," he said.

"We appreciate having a federal lab located on UK’s campus, and we are grateful to Senator Mitch McConnell for helping secure this valuable research facility," said Nancy Cox, PhD, associate dean for research in UK’s College of Agriculture, Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station director, and administrative leader for UK’s Equine Initiative

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