UK, USDA Researchers Live by the Word ‘Collaboration’

Together the groups have studied fescue toxicosis, equine gut health, and other horse health and management aspects.

UK, USDA Researchers Live by the Word
Researchers at UK and the USDA have collaborated for research on a variety of topics. | Photo Credit: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture

Collaboration seems to be a buzz word in higher education these days. While many people claim to collaborate, researchers at the University of Kentucky (UK) and USDA have proven to be excellent examples of collaboration. Their successes translate to improving the body of knowledge surrounding tall fescue toxicosis, equine gut health, and other aspects of horse health and management.

This partnership began in 2003 when a USDA research unit was located within UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFΕ). This unit, known as ARS-Forage-Animal Production Research Unit (FAPRU) is housed within the physical buildings of the college and allows the unit to focus its efforts and capital on research while the college provides basic services such as buildings and land, physical plant needs, and custodial services. In exchange, USDA-ARS provides funding through a Specific Cooperative Agreement (SCA) to CAFΕ faculty to conduct collaborative research with FAPRU scientists. The SCA accounts for more than half of the total budget for the ARS unit housed in Lexington, equating to approximately $800,000 a year for research at UK.

“The USDA lab and the SCA funds have opened up research opportunities that were not available previously,” said Laurie Lawrence, PhD, a professor in UK’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “In the equine area, much of the funding available from private foundations or the health care industries focus on clinical diseases; the SCA funds allow us to study normal horses, particularly in regard to digestive

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