The University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (known as RUM) recently received a $750,000 grant from the Puerto Rico Agriculture Department to develop Tropical Animal Reproduction Research Center (CIRAT, in Spanish), under the School of Agricultural Sciences’ Agricultural Experimental Station.
The Center, an idea created by a group of multidisciplinary researchers from the School of Agricultural Sciences, who submitted the proposal to Agriculture, aims to study the genetics of tropical cattle and improve breeds.
The laboratory will also serve as a scientific research center and a teaching, learning and practice space for Agricultural Sciences students, university officials said.
“The CIRAT will benefit the academic community and the livestock industry, which will also contribute to the economy. Initially, the goal is to do research on animal reproduction to continue studying tropical livestock,” said Verónica M. Negrón-Pérez, the CIRAT’s chief researcher, who is a specialist in cattle reproduction and embryology Agricultural Experimental Station in Gurabo.
Once the CIRAT is operational, students from other UPR campuses will join RUM students and professors to demonstrate assisted reproduction in livestock farming, she said.
“In addition, [the Center] has the mission of promoting the UPR’s elite animal genetics and helping ranchers,” she said.
The initiative looks to promote the establishment of the short-haired mutation in Holstein Slick dairy cows through dairy farms in Puerto Rico, “as a valuable adaptation strategy to stimulate milk production in a warm climate,” Negrón-Pérez said.
The project includes remodeling the Gurabo dairy facilities, designed by Architect Henry Klumb, and using them for the CIRAT. These structures were identified as a historic building a few years ago, so their new use would stand out and provide maintenance to honor them as Puerto Rican heritage, school officials said.