Eight faculty members representing Texas A&M University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension recently traveled to Kenya and Ethiopia to develop relationships with scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Participants included Animal Science faculty members Dr. Thomas Hairgrove, associate professor and Extension specialist; Dr. Andy Herring, professor of beef cattle production; Dr. Cliff Lamb, professor and head; Dr. Reid Redden, associate professor and Extension sheep and goat specialist; Dr. David Riley, professor of animal breeding and genetics; and Dr. Luis Tedeschi, professor of animal nutrition; Dr. David Lunt, associate director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Dr. Elizabeth Parker, chief veterinarian for the Institute for Animal Infectious Diseases.
Faculty visited the ILRI Campus in Nairobi, Kenya where they were able to visit the Tick Center and a genetic repository, as well as the 30,000 acre ILRI Kapiti Farm (60 miles from Nairobi), where they saw a sheep research project and observed potential cattle resources for subsequent collaborations.
“Kenya has a research ranch that would provide excellent opportunities for Research and Extension faculty to collect data on large animal populations that are infected with seven major tick species and infected with four major tick diseases,” said Hairgrove. “Only one of the diseases is endemic in the United States, but two other diseases (Bovine Babesiaosis and Cowdriosis or Heart-water) are endemic in countries that are close neighbors and require constant surveillance and producer education.”
In addition, faculty also visited the ILRI Campus in Addis Ababa, the Debre-Birhan Research Station and toured Ethiopian production systems with multiple stops at various agricultural enterprises, such as a local milk processing plant, a dairy, and a subsistence farm.
Lamb anticipates future research collaborations between the Department of Animal Science and ILRI as a result of the trip.
“Although we have significant technological advantages over many of the developing countries, they have a lot to offer us in terms of management and genetic strategies to overcoming many of the production-related issues that we face in Texas,” said Lamb. “A solid relationship with international partners will enhance our ability to solve our issues faster and in a more diverse manner.”
Hairgrove agrees, noting a need for basic research, focusing primarily on vector borne diseases, which would be beneficial to both producers in the United States and Kenya.
“In the U.S. and Kenya, control of tick borne diseases concentrates on frequent acaracide [pesticide that kills ticks and mites] application, which eventually results in tick resistance to products. Currently Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension are evaluating novel means to determine tick load on animals without having to contain them, making for more responsible use of chemicals and thereby reducing acaracide resistance,” said Hairgrove.
Lamb extended his stay to work on establishing a potential study abroad opportunity for students in South Africa that would provide undergraduates an opportunity to visit the country and experience livestock management and wildlife conservation.
The above faculty quickly followed up on their trip with a web conference with ILRI after returning home to discuss research collaborations and potential visits of scientists and graduate students. This open communication was the overarching goal of the trip.
“These relationships may lead to enhanced opportunities for student and faculty exchanges, scientific resource data sharing opportunities (especially in the area of genetics and management), and ultimately the opportunity to find additional ways to address many of the issues faced by the Texas livestock industry,” said Lamb.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.