Eight bovine-related projects to benefit cattle producers

By TIM HEARDEN

Capital Press

CHICO, Calif. -- A foundation's more than $300,000 in donations will fund University of California research on rangeland water quality, foothill abortion and other issues facing the cattle industry.

Eight projects are being funded by the Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment, which was set up by the estate of a Lake County rancher who died in 2008, according to UC-Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Among the projects, scientists will study ways to more easily diagnose bovine respiratory disease, control medusahead in rangelands and assess transport-related stress and diseases in animals, the university stated in a news release.

Projects were prioritized by a panel that included cattle industry and university representatives, said DeeDee Kitterman, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"I think both we at the university here and in the (California) Cattlemen's Association are very excited about this opportunity," Kitterman said. "The generosity of Mr. Rustici is going to make a difference into the future."

The university's research is highly beneficial to producers, said Tony Turri, owner of Turri Family Farms in Flournoy, Calif. He said his grandparents had problems with foothill abortion when they first bought their ranch.

"Usually the problem arises if you purchase cattle that were not raised in an area that has foothill abortion," Turri said. "We raise all our cattle, so they're exposed to it at a young age and become immune to it."

Scientists have been working for several years to develop a vaccine for foothill abortion, a tick-borne malady that kills calf fetuses. The disease causes an annual loss of 45,000 to 90,000 calves, according to UC researchers.

The Rustici grant will enable further development and testing of a foothill abortion vaccine, which could be ready for use by next year, said Tom Talbot, a Bishop, Calif., veterinarian and past CCA president.

"This is just an amazing thing for our industry," Talbot said. "Research dollars devoted to issues that are important to us are hard to come by sometimes. When we heard of this whole thing from Mr. Rustici, we were just overwhelmed."

Grants for this year's projects totaled $339,400, with three of the projects perhaps receiving second-year funding totaling nearly $105,000, the UC news release stated.

Among the other projects, according to the release:

Glenn Nader, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in the middle Sacramento Valley, will coordinate electronic distribution of research information to cattlemen.

Kristin Clothier of UC-Davis' California Animal health and Food Safety Laboratory will study detection of a trichomoniasis pathogen.

Cassandra Tucker of UC-Davis' Department of Animal Science will assess pain relief and healing after hot-iron branding and castration.

Online

UC-Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: www.aes.ucdavis.edu

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