Professor Christopher Lu delivers plenary speech at conference in Mexico City

Prof. Lu spoke on “Ethological Observations Associated with Feed and Water Ingestions in Goats.” He also held a Q&A on food and agriculture, research, and higher education.

Group photo on lawn.
Prof. Lu (center standing in tan jacket), the organizing committee and faculty members of the host institution.

Christopher Lu, professor of animal science at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, delivered a speech at the plenary session of XXIX Reunión Nacional sobre Caprinocultura. The biannual event hosted by the Mexican Association of Goat Production (AMPCA) was held in October 2017 at Cuautitlán campus of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México is the premier institution of higher education in Mexico. The objective of the conference was to disseminate and exchange recent research information among professionals involved in goat production. Hundreds attended the three-day conference.

Professor Lu presented a paper entitled, “Ethological Observations Associated with Feed and Water Ingestions in Goats.”

Ingestion behaviors in goats can be both innate and learned. While the nerve and endocrine controls are apparent, goats acquire their ingestion behaviors through learning and experience. Environmental factors further modify ingestion behaviors in goats; as differences in ingestion behavior can be observed in goats under intensive feeding systems versus those under extensive grazing systems. With a circadian rhythm, water ingestion is brief while feed ingestion occurs in two major bouts in the morning and before sunset. Goats exhibit both greater discrimination and tolerance toward bitterness that is prevalent in secondary plant compounds with anthelmintic and protein binding properties. These properties have health and nutritional implications in goats.

With mobile lips, prehensile tongue, agile front legs, and strong hind legs, goats are able to expand their feeding dimension and employ desirable nutritional strategies. Selectivity, browsing, long distance traveling, bipedal stance, aerial positioning, and adaptability set goats apart from cattle and sheep in ingestion behaviors. Ruminating is perceived as an important index of welfare. With a wide range of variation, a goat typically spends 7 to 8 hour/day in ruminating. Leverage of ingestion behavior can contribute to biological control of weeds, optimal utilization of feed resources through mix-species grazing, and maintenance of landscape diversity; while negligence can lead to environmental degradation. Understanding of ingestion behavior as both an art and a science has practical implications in meeting goals of ethological needs, animal welfare, perceptions of societies, productive performance, consumer acceptance and economic return.

During his visit to Mexico, Professor Lu held two open forums with faculty and students at Cuautitlán campus auditorium of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México where he was awarded with Professor Honorario in 2008. Prof. Lu answered questions pertaining to food and agriculture, research, and higher education and exchanged views with the near capacity audience.

More photos and original publication of this article in the Feb 2018 CAFNRM/Agriculture Club Newsletter.