RESEARCH EFFORTS IN ILLINOIS ARE HELPING LIVESTOCK FARMERS FIND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO CONTINUALLY IMPROVE THEIR FARMS Farmers look to scientific research in order to learn new ways of producing food using fewer resources. The University of Illinois (U of I) is the state’s land grant institution and is a leading research university. U of I, along with other Illinois universities, provides important information to farmers. Here are some highlights of current research efforts. 19 DR. PHIL CARDOSO, Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences, at the University of Illinois, is transforming the way that Illinois dairy farmers access scientific research. Dr. Cardoso has initiated a Dairy Focus Team of graduate and undergraduate students that focus on nutrition, reproduction, young stock and management. The team visits dairy farms to collect information and then offers recommendations on ways farmers can improve their farms. Cardoso also utilizes the information collected from the farms to determine what types of research need to be conducted. DR. JOSH MCCANN, Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences, at the University of Illinois, has studied ways to improve raising beef cattle. His research of beef cattle feedlots has found that the use of feed additive technology called beta-agonists can reduce nitrogen excretion by 13 percent, while actually increasing meat output. By converting dietary protein into more meat and reducing manure nitrogen, beef feedlots are becoming more sustainable and profitable. Improvements in efficiency also normally improve sustainability by more judicious use of inputs. DR. MIKE ELLIS, Professor, Animal Sciences, at the University of Illinois, performs fundamental studies carried out in specialist university facilities and applied studies carried out on existing farms in collaboration with pork producers within the state. A major focus of this research is on improving the efficiency of swine production, which both reduces production costs and also minimizes nutrient output in manure. Nutrition research aims to optimize the balance between the supply of nutrients in the diet fed to the pig with the animal’s requirements for nutrients. Research in this area has resulted in an improved understanding of the nutritional properties of corn, soybean meal, and corn co-products, such as distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn germ meal, that are the major feed ingredients used for pigs in Illinois. A substantial amount of research has focused on the use of in-feed enzymes, such as phytase, which increases the availability of phosphorus in swine diets thereby greatly reducing phosphorus levels in manure. This ultimately has led to a reduction in the amount of phosphorus applied to soils in Illinois. In addition, research on processing of swine feeds, particularly the use of pelleting, has produced major improvements in feed efficiency. These improvements reduce the total amount of feed needed to produce a pig, which reduces the nutrient output in manure.