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$65.9 Million UK Research Lab Will Help Sustain Kentucky's Multi-Billion Dollar Livestock Industry
Kentucky Ag Connection - 05/24/2023

The University of Kentucky broke ground Tuesday morning on a new 52,600-square-foot Forage Animal Production Lab on its campus

What You Need To Know

UK broke ground on a $65.9 million resaerch facility that will house the Forage Animal Production Research Unit

The 52,600-square-foot facility will have classrooms, laboratiries, greenhouses and will allow USDA and UK researchers to work hand-in-hand

The project will be completed in 2026

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Ag. Secretary Tom Vilsack said it's a national investment in the nation's beef industry

It will house the Forage-Animal Production Research Unit, which aims to improve sustainability among pasture-based operations that raise cattle, horses and other feed animals.

The project costs $65.9 million and while it has a complicated name, lead researcher Dr. Michael Flythe of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said they’re studying grass and its importance to nutrition of pasture animals.

“It’s all about grass in forage. The animals rely on the forage that we grow so well here in Kentucky and we’re bringing that forage science into the 21st century,” Flythe said.

Upon its completion in 2026, the new space will have offices, laboratories, greenhouses and a centralized team of researchers from the USDA and UK. Flythe is one of the six researchers from the USDA that will work out of the new building.

“It’s going to put us under one roof. It’s going to take our researchers, our USDA researchers and the UK researchers from different departments that work closely with us and put us in together, sharing laboratory facilities, sharing a coffeepot a lot of great scientific — ideas come out of sharing a coffeepot,” Flythe said.

Flythe says they’re studying nutritional work and how to improve health and productivity of forage animals while being sustainable.

“Really, the groundbreaking work is secondary metabolites. It’s smaller nutrients in that grass, a lot of which is unknown to us and we don’t know what it does,” Flythe said.

Funding was secured through federal dollars which Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell helped secure.


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