The majority of us in this room today
most likely already have or will contribute to one of the leading
problems facing the world today. And that is the growing population and how we’re
going to feed that population. And as animal scientists, we’re actually
positioned in a very unique environment as we work with livestock that don’t
directly compete with humans for a food source. That is, you and I won’t go out to
a pasture and eat grass for 80 to 100 percent of our lives. And as animal
scientists, if we’re going to continue to feed the world, we must live by the motto
of one calf per cow per year. And not only that we have one calf per cow per
year, but that calf grows into a healthy and viable food source for human
consumption. And believe it or not that actually begins back at the beginning of
pregnancy. And if we were to take a group of cows and breed them once, we would
find that approximately 90 percent of them would actually conceive. But by
day 50 of their gestation, only half of those cows would have maintained a
viable pregnancy. And the majority of the time, this is actually due to failed
nutrient transport and nutrient availability for that fetus to use to
grow. But if I were to ask you, ‘well how does the fetus receive its nutrients
during pregnancy?’ the vast majority of people in this room would say through a
shared blood supply between the maternal and fetal systems through the umbilical
cord. And while that answer is correct for late gestation, actually in early
gestation there is no umbilical cord and the fetus has to receive its nutrients
through transporters in the uterus and developing placenta. So what our lab did
was we developed a way to study early nutrition to the developing fetus. And
some of the things that we found was that these transporters and the uterus and
developing placenta are actually expressed at different time points
during early gestation. They’re actually located in different tissues throughout
the uterus and the placenta and at differences abundances in those tissues.
And the nutrients that they transport are actually found in different
concentrations we made available to the fetus differentially throughout
different days of gestation. Additionally, if we reduce the intake of those cows to
about half of what they were supposed to be getting, we actually reduce the
concentrations of some of these nutrients being made available to
the fetus. So how do we actually apply this? Well now we’re able to take this
data and we’re able to start to test to see if we supply certain nutrients at
specific time points during gestation, then hopefully we were able to increase
the viability of that conceptus to maintain our model of one calf
per cow per year so that we can continue to feed the growing population. Thank you.