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Team streamlines DNA collection, analysis for elephant conservation

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new DNA-collection approach allows scientists to capture genetic information from elephants without disturbing the animals or putting their own safety in jeopardy. The protocol, tested on elephant dung, yielded enough DNA to sequence whole genomes not only of the elephants but also of the associated microbes, plants, parasites and other organisms – at a fraction of the cost of current approaches.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Frontiers in Genetics.

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New monounsaturated soybean oil works well in pig diets

URBANA, Ill. – Adding a fat source to the traditional corn-soy swine diet is common practice, but the type of fat can make a difference both for growing pigs and carcass quality. Polyunsaturated fats, the primary type in distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), can reduce fat quality and complicate processing of pork bellies and bacon.

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Animal welfare judging team provides unique experiential learning for students

URBANA, Ill. – From zebrafish to chickens to boars, students on the University of Illinois animal welfare judging team learn to evaluate living conditions for a wide range of animal species. That gives them a unique opportunity to put their skills to practice while networking and having fun.

Team members Tawni Williams and Zoey Witruk both received top placements at the 2021 Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC).

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Learning from chickens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The first thing I notice when we step through white double doors of the growers’ house is that every one of the 1,200 or so chickens in this enormous room has stopped whatever it was doing to stare at us. A few of the birds step closer, peering at our legs as if they want to peck our shoes. But they don’t. They’re just curious. Chickens, I realize, are gawkers.

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How genetic diversity could avoid threat of deadly disease in endangered deer

URBANA, Ill. – Chronic wasting disease, the prion disease affecting white-tailed deer and other cervids, is spreading. With documented cases in 29 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, three Scandinavian countries, and South Korea, free-ranging and captive cervids are under threat. Efforts to conserve endangered deer against this backdrop are understandably fraught.

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5 Questions: ACES start leads to future in veterinary medicine for zoo and wild animals

Now in veterinary school at U of I, animal lover Jacob Dalen got his start in the Department of Animal Sciences' pre-vet track, and minored in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. This week's 5 Questions Friday looks back at Dalen's time at ACES.

Where did you grow up? Do you have an agriculture background? If so, what did that look like?

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Amino acid supplement key to reproductive health in dairy cows

URBANA, Ill. – Lysine is an essential amino acid for dairy cows, helping boost milk production when added to the diet at adequate levels. But could lysine benefit cows in other ways? A new University of Illinois study shows rumen-protected lysine can improve uterine health if fed during the transition period.

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U of I beef production professor, icon Doug Parrett passes away

URBANA, Ill. – Lifelong beef production devotee Doug Parrett was technically retired from the University of Illinois, but the emeritus professor never stopped showing up for the Department of Animal Sciences, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), or the beef industry. Still an active teacher, mentor, and friend to many, Parrett passed away unexpectedly on August 26, 2022. He was 71.

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From storage to center stage: New bronze statue of world-famous steer welcomes visitors to Stock Pavilion

URBANA, Ill. – There’s a lot of history in the iconic Stock Pavilion on the University of Illinois’ South Quad. Now, thanks to one family’s love for the space and another family’s personal ties to a very famous steer, a piece of history will welcome visitors to the Stock Pavilion forever.

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New dog food? Study shows Fido's gut bacteria could turn over within a week

URBANA, Ill. – When a dog starts a new diet, the community of microbes in its gut changes. Wallflower bacteria multiply to dominate the scene, with the old guard slinking off in defeat. As microbial species jostle for control, their metabolic byproducts, many of which are critical for Fido’s overall health, change as well.

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