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Walter Butler

W. Ron Butler

Professor

262A Morrison Hall
(607) 255-2873

My professional objective is to support the missions of the Department of Animal Science and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences by providing high quality research and teaching performance. My overall goal in research is to enhance reproductive performance in dairy cattle and other domestic animals. Nutrition and reproduction are interrelated and a smooth transition from late pregnancy to early lactation is key to optimizing fertility during breeding. I seek to describe the physiological mechanisms involved in their interaction. For example, the degree of body condition loss associated with negative energy balance delays first ovulation and negatively impacts fertility later during breeding. Feeding high protein diets to dairy cows stimulates and supports high milk production. Metabolism of high dietary protein during lactation is associated with higher urea in blood or milk (BUN, PUN, MUN) and lower conception rate, through effects on the uterine environment that negatively impact embryo viability. By understanding the cellular mechanisms most affected by energy and protein metabolism, I anticipate that dietary strategies and hormonal therapies can be developed to facilitate both high milk production and improved reproductive performance. In teaching, my goal is to provide stimulating and challenging instruction in animal physiology and mammalian reproduction. Understanding the importance of endocrine and biochemical mechanisms during the life cycle of mammals provides students with information and perspective to understand and contribute to animal well-being and performance.

Research Focus

My overall goal in research is to enhance reproductive efficiency in dairy cattle and thereby to increase the profitability and sustainability of the dairy industry. Nutrition and reproduction are interrelated and I seek to describe the physiological mechanisms involved during the transition period. The control of follicular selection and development in cattle is currently emphasized. Follicle development occurs in all cows postpartum, but the outcome for ovulation vs. atresia is related to the energy balance profile, insulin and IGF levels, and LH pulse frequency. Negative energy balance detrimentally affects health, milk production, and subsequent fertility. Lactating cows which maintain higher feed intakes through the transition period to better satisfy energy requirements express early ovulation, better health, and improved fertility. By understanding genetic regulation of cellular mechanisms most affected by metabolism and availability of energy and specific fatty acids, I anticipate that dietary strategies and genetic selection can serve to facilitate both high milk production and improved reproductive performance.

Teaching Focus

In teaching, my goal is to provide stimulating and challenging instruction in animal physiology and related functions. Understanding the importance of endocrine and biochemical mechanisms during the life cycle of mammals provides students with information and perspective to understand and contribute to animal well-being and performance. By acknowledging the known and the unknown, as well as exciting new research built on the established foundation, my goal is to model life-long learning.

Presentation and demonstration of the importance of endocrine and biochemical mechanisms during the life cycle of mammals. Physiology of reproduction, lactation, growth and environmental interactions for performance and well-being of domestic animals.

Awards and Honors

  • Pfizer Animal Health Physiology Award (2011) The American Dairy Science Association

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • Nutritional regulation of reproduction and fertility in dairy cattle. InCalf Reproduction Symposium 2013. May 2013. Dairy Australia InCalf. Melbourne, Australia.