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University of Florida

Pioneering UF/IFAS cattle scientist recognized at World Dairy Expo

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida emeritus graduate research professor in the Department of Animal Sciences was recognized last week at the 2015 World Dairy Expo for his decades of work in cattle reproduction.

Virtus Nutrition honored several researchers, including William Thatcher, as the company launched the Fatty Acid Forum Legacy Series at the expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Virtus showcased the significance of dairy research and the scientists who pioneered numerous dairy cattle nutrition breakthroughs. Some of the scientists’ findings serve as resources for nutritionists and producers now and for future generations.

Thatcher, an active emeritus UF/IFAS faculty member, is considered one of the world’s leading experts in animal reproduction. He played a key role in establishing links between the intake of fatty acids by dairy cows and their effects on improving reproduction.

Dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids helps regulate lactating dairy cows by modulating metabolic, reproductive and immune functions that, in turn, enhance fertility and lactation. This leads to increased productivity of the dairy herd, Thatcher said.

“I am very pleased and humbled to have our research recognized by Virtus Nutrition,” he said. “It is a recognition of the integrated efforts of my students, scientific colleagues at the University of Florida and our cooperative dairy producers to bring this research in lipid biology to the point of technology transfer, which benefits the dairy industry.”

The dairy cow is an excellent experimental model for humans, as it relates to different aspects of reproduction and lactation, Thatcher said. By understanding the molecular control systems altered by polyunsaturated fatty acids, farmers can feed cattle different fatty acids to improve dairy cattle fertility. Potential application to humans warrants further investigation, he said.

“The research topics that are covered by these dedicated legacy professors built the core biology that our current-day models and systems in the industry can utilize to make better decisions and reduce risk of misuse or less profitable outcomes when integrating fatty acids into dairy diets,” said Kevin Murphy, global technical director for Virtus Nutrition.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: William Thatcher, 352-392-1981, thatcher@ufl.edu

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