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Issue #2, January 2018
Table of Contents
Researcher's Corner: Chickens and child growth in Ethiopia
Dr. Havelaar is a professor of global food safety and zoonoses, University of Florida, and a co-leader of our Livestock disease management and food safety Area of Inquiry.
Hello, I’m Dr. Arie Havelaar. At the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab, I co-lead the Area of Inquiry “Livestock Disease Management and Food Safety.” Ongoing efforts in this Area of Inquiry are diverse, covering large-scale assessments of aflatoxin in animal feeds, improved surveillance systems for disease reporting, better understanding of causes and effective mitigation of youngstock mortality, food safety and improved management for mastitis. Although our research projects are country-specific, their results will have wider relevance, and we plan to make them widely available.

Today I’d like to introduce you to a new research project that the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems is launching in Ethiopia with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (see an overview of the entire Equip project below). In the highlands of southeastern Ethiopia and many parts of the world, chickens are traditionally freely scavenging and often kept inside the home at night. The exposure of young children to chicken feces may cause chronic infections with Campylobacter bacteria, leading to a syndrome known as Environmental Enteric Dysfunction, which is an important risk factor for stunting. As part of the Equip project, I’m starting research on a component called the Campylobacter Genomics and Environmental Enteric Dysfunction (CAGED) project. Together with our partners Dr. Jemal Yousuf from Haramaya University in Ethiopia, Dr. Wondwossen Gebreyes from Ohio State University, Dr. Mark Manary from Washington University in St. Louis, and Dr. Sarah McKune, co-principal investigator from the University of Florida, we’ll be studying ways to reduce infections of young children with Campylobacter bacteria from chicken droppings.

Our proposed experiment depends on a willingness of families to keep their chickens in coops. The project’s first one and a half years will involve a formative study, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s request, to gather evidence to support our hypothesis and prepare for an intervention. Assuming success, during the remainder of the five-year project we will implement a cluster randomized community-based trial to evaluate the impact of improved chicken husbandry and housing interventions on the linear growth of children between 6 and 18 months of age. We hypothesize that a reversal of the exposure cycle by caging chickens will improve the gut health of children in Ethiopia and, when combined with adequate nutrition, will improve their linear growth. Interventions during the trial will include hygiene education and the feeding of eggs to children, which has reduced stunting in other countries.

Feel free to contact me for further information about the project, at ariehavelaar@ufl.edu. We look forward to learning about this important topic and communicating the results.
Announcing Equip: Strengthening smallholder livestock systems for the future
Preparing ground pods of a native shrub, Piliostigma reticulatum, for sale as a livestock feed in Burkina Faso.
We are pleased to announce our new award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This award takes place in the context of the collaboration between USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that supports our Innovation Lab. As the Foundation’s largest donation to the University of Florida, the $8.7 million grant funds two lines of research. Funds for research on animal feed further strengthen the ongoing USAID-funded work in this area, which has been ranked as the most important constraint to livestock production in all our target countries. Feed research will take place in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso and involve five components: (1) Inventory feed resources through a landscape analysis to document the quantities, nutritional qualities, prices, availability and accessibility of feeds that can be used to improve livestock productivity, (2) Examine strategies to increase the yield, quality and preservation of fodder with location-specific improved forages for different agroecologies, (3) Determine and meet nutrient requirements of indigenous livestock with balanced rations, and (4) Improve the capacity to analyze the nutritional value of livestock feeds through Near Infrared Spectrophotometry (NIRS). Additionally in Ethiopia, we will examine effects of synergizing feed, management and genetic interventions on milk production. The feed efforts focus on sheep and goats in Burkina Faso and on dairy cows in Ethiopia.   

The funds will also allow the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab to embark on research in Ethiopia to better understand and design animal husbandry interventions to prevent Environmental Enteric Dysfunction, a syndrome associated with stunting (see “Researcher’s Corner” above). Both Ethiopia and Burkina Faso are actively promoting growth of their livestock sectors and we expect that the knowledge, tools and products generated by this project will contribute significantly to these efforts in both countries as well as in similar agroecologies and socioeconomic conditions.
Ongoing Research for Development
Women in Nepal have new tools to identify and report livestock diseases, improving disease surveillance.
Of our 24 research for development projects in Africa and Asia, 7 will conclude within the coming months. Researchers involved in these one-year projects in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Nepal are publishing their results in diverse fora, ranging from extension publications to peer-reviewed journals. In addition, each researcher is developing a “scaling plan” which outlines the technology or practice developed and key issues relevant to its dissemination, such as the target agroecological zone and farming system as well as potential extension methods, relevant scaling partners and policy implications. This January, the researchers will be sharing in-person reports and scaling plans at our Annual General Meeting in Ethiopia.

The seven concluding projects fall under our disease surveillance, feed quality and quantity, and milk quality themes. They are:   
  1. The Effect of Passive Surveillance Training on Animal Health Parameters, Northern Ethiopia (Principal Investigator [PI]: Dr. Corrie Brown, University of Georgia)
  2. Mycotoxin Prevalence and Mitigation Measures in Ethiopia (PI: Dr. Deon van Merwe, Kansas State University)
  3. Assessment and Mitigation of Aflatoxin and Fumonisin Contamination in Animal Feeds in Rwanda (PI: Dr. Dirk E. Maier, Iowa State University)
  4. Milk Production Practices, Udder Health and the Impact on Milk Quality, Safety and Processability in Rwanda (PI: Mr. Jean Baptiste Ndahetuye, University of Rwanda)
  5. Empowerment of Village Women for Detection and Control of Livestock Diseases in Nepal (PI: Dr. Richard A. Bowen, Colorado State University)
  6. Improving Dairy Animal Productivity and Income of Dairy Farmers through Effective Control of Mastitis Disease (PI: Dr. Keshav Prasad Sah, Heifer Project International Nepal)
  7. Feeding Support Tool Development for Enhancing Dairy Animal Productivity for Improved Livelihood of Smallholder Dairy Farmers in Nepal (PI: Mr. Bhola Shankar Shrestha, Heifer Project International Nepal)
Watch our Facebook and Twitter feeds for future highlights of each project’s findings and products. Already they have produced 17 products, and that number should double this year. On our website, read updates of the active research projects in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nepal, and Rwanda and look out for those starting in a short while in Burkina Faso and Niger.
Expanding PPR Work in East Africa
PPR affects both goats and sheep.
With the ultimate goal to contribute to the global efforts to eradicate goat plague (Peste des Petits Ruminants, PPR), a viral disease of sheep and goats, we are expanding the efforts initiated in eastern Uganda (Kotido and Amudat districts) to the adjacent areas in northwestern Kenya (Turkana and West Pokot Counties). Livestock graze across the borders in the study areas, which are important hotspots for PPR transmission. Partners in Kenya will be the Department of Veterinary Services and the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization, among others. Next steps in Uganda involve epidemiological and socio-cultural surveys and vaccination of around 500,000 sheep and goats in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Makerere University, community animal health workers and Mercy Corps. PPR affects approximately 1.7 billion sheep and goats in 76 countries.
Research and Capacity Building in Rwanda
One of various milk transportation methods in Rwanda.
In each issue of Lively, we will bring you highlights from one of our eight target countries. In Rwanda, the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab has three active research projects, and two of them are concluding soon.

These projects in Rwanda are building a legacy of research and human and institutional capacity building. Based on insights from stakeholders at an Innovation Platform meeting in Rwanda in January 2017, the one-year Focus projects are collecting feed and milk samples nationwide in order to measure levels of mycotoxins, or fungal toxic contaminants. Food borne pathogens in milk are also being measured and strategies to mitigate these contaminants are being developed. Upgraded laboratories at the University of Rwanda support both projects.

The Focus project on feed mycotoxins led by Dr. Dirk E. Maier, Dr. Erin Bowers and Mr. Kizito Nishimwe, his Rwandan Ph.D. student at Iowa State University, has analyzed more than 3,000 samples of livestock feed and grain-based feed ingredients collected in six rounds from all 30 districts of the country. The two types of fungal mycotoxins under study are aflatoxin and fumonisin, which cause human and livestock diseases. A total of 170 milk samples have also been analyzed for aflatoxin M1, a metabolite that results from dairy cattle ingesting aflatoxin-contaminated feed. Thirty-five students and staff in the College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine have been trained in mycotoxin analysis. Laboratory facilities at the University of Rwanda are being equipped to establish a surveillance and early detection system for aflatoxin and fumonisin. The team published an educational poster and rack card training materials that provides an overview of contamination risks and preventions. Plus, the enumerators while collecting samples have educated local farmers about the threats from mycotoxins using the training materials in the Kinyarwanda language.
 
Dr. Maier’s team is also testing milk samples collected by the Focus project on mastitis. Led by Mr. Jean Baptiste Ndahetuye of the University of Rwanda, the project, which develops best practices for milk production and handling, and identifies zoonotic bacteria and antimicrobial residues in milk, contributes to his Ph.D. work in Animal Health at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, as well as M.S. thesis of two Animal Production students from the University of Rwanda. More than 400 farmers have learned about testing milk samples. The simple and low-cost California Mastitis Test employed reveals infected milk with a purple dye. In addition, farmers participated in surveys and gained insights into causes of reduced milk quality. Materials for training many more farmers are being developed.

Capacity building is also an important element in the multi-year Reach project led by Dr. Emily Ouma from the International Livestock Research Institute, on enhancing the quality and consumption of milk.  In 2017, the project launched efforts on enhancing capacity of dairy cooperatives to improve market access for smallholder milk producers. The project partner TechnoServe developed a tool from two existing tools that will be used to assess organizational performance of 30 producer organizations.  Additionally, University of Florida has initiated several short-term capacity building efforts, including a week-long training by Dr. Jorge Hernandez to individuals from various institutions in disease surveillance, epidemiology, and animal health research and the associated health policy implications.
Events & Publications
Our first annual meeting in 2017 brought our research partners to the University of Florida.
Annual General Meeting: Once again, we are gathering researchers and supporters from around the globe for a cluster of meetings. On January 21 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the week opens with an orientation for newly funded researchers working in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Cambodia. On January 22 and 23, nearly 60 people will participate in our second Annual General Meeting. Several researchers will present projects that are just beginning, while other researchers will share final results.
Global Nutrition Symposium: Mid-week the gathering transitions into the Global Nutrition Symposium.  The second edition of this international symposium on January 24-25 is titled “The Missing Link: Increasing Availability of Animal-source Foods through Greater Production and Marketing of Quality Feeds.” The feeding of livestock deserves more attention, because animal nutrition is one of the greatest constraints to livestock productivity and thus its effects reverberate across societies. Low livestock productivity constrains income and nutrition of poor households, whereas higher productivity, reinforced by supportive policies and practices, strengthens the value chain. These connections and various issues will be explored in-depth at the symposium. Register to attend using Eventbrite.
Ethiopia Innovation Platform Meeting: Then on Friday, January 26, the week culminates with the third multi-stakeholder Innovation Platform meeting in Ethiopia. During the meeting, the results from ongoing research projects will be shared and those researchers whose projects will end soon will present their scaling plans.   

Building on previous meetings, we will continue to hold annual Innovation Platform meetings in each of our target countries. We’re excited to expand and solidify our network in these important face-to-face meetings.
Goats on NPR

Did you know that National Public Radio recently featured our project that aims to eliminate sheep and goat plague? Our director, Gbola Adesogan, and Jeff Mariner, the Tufts University-based lead scientist of our Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) project, spoke about our efforts to control this devastating disease. Find this story (“The War Against Goat Plague”) and harvest a bundle of information at our Publications webpage.
Gender Questions

Our gender Cross-cutting Theme leader and animal scientist, Dr. Kathleen Colverson, spoke at Kansas State University to colleagues from other Innovation Labs. Listen to this excellent presentation, Why Integrate Gender into Research Projects? The Importance of Systems Thinking, and try to answer her challenging questions.
 
Quick Communications Survey
Please take 3 minutes to share your perspective on our outreach by completing this online survey. We are working on a communications strategy, and your input will help us to improve our efforts. The survey link is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8NHF3SS .

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This newsletter is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems managed by the University of Florida and the International Livestock Research Institute. The contents are the responsibility of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
Copyright © 2017 University of Florida, All rights reserved.

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