The nutrition research programs within the department are widely diversified with a distinct emphasis on nutritional challenges facing livestock production in a subtropical climate. Efforts focus on increasing our understanding of the functions and interactions of carbohydrates, lipids, protein, minerals and vitamins in domestic animal metabolism.
Emphasized research areas include assessing the bioavailability, functions, and metabolism of vitamins and minerals, improving preservation and nutritive value of Florida-grown forages using inoculants and enzymes, development of laboratory techniques for evaluation of feedstuffs, identification and formulation of carbohydrate fractions in diets to improve efficiency of energy and protein utilization, utilization of trans fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid and octadecanoic acid in the periparturient period to improve health, production, and reproduction of dairy cows, assessing rate-limiting enzymes within tissues for lipid and glucose metabolism, feeding and formulation of dietary energy, fat, and protein sources to improve reproductive performance, and management strategies of feeding lipid sources for maximum animal production responses.
Application of findings to commercial enterprises receives much emphasis. Many research findings are reported in educational efforts such as the Florida Ruminant Nutrition Symposium, the Beef Cattle Short Course, and the Dairy Production Conference held yearly in Gainesville.
Monetary sources to conduct the research and to fund graduate student stipends include federal granting agencies, animal industry associations such as the American Farm Bureau, American Feed Industry Association, and the Liquid Feed Industry, the private feed/animal industry sector, and the Florida dairy cooperative milk checkoff funds. Financial support is available for graduate studies by qualified student applicants.
Faculty work collaboratively across disciplines and departments in order to address challenges more effectively and to improve graduate student training. Other departments conducting research with nutrition faculty of the Animal Sciences Department include Agronomy, College of Veterinary Medicine, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Food and Human Nutrition, Microbiology and Cell Science, Statistics, and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.
Livestock research facilities in Gainesville include an 800 animal dairy farm with 700 acres for growing crops, two beef research units (including pastures and Calan gate feeding facilities), and a horse farm. In addition, the university has excellent working relationships with several commercial dairy, beef, and horse farms in Florida that result in many research studies being conducted on-site.