Dr. Fred Provenza, from Utah State University, spoke to Texas A&M University – Kingsville (AMK) students and guests about his research on what he calls the “wisdom body” and how that determines the way animals interact with their environment last Thursday for the Kilman Lectureship at the Biology Building.
“I was really interested in animals and what they did. I worked for seven years on a ranch in Colorado spending a lot of time watching what animals do and working with animals,” said Provenza. “It was a combination of all those things that raised questions in my mind,”
Provenza’s research led to the creation of his “wisdom body” idea, in which he explains how an animal decides what is palatable. By changing their diet, we can control what they feel is palatable.
“By understanding palpability, we can train livestock to selectively forage and fertilize to reduce costs and enhance production,” said Provenza.
In other countries, shepherds use a grazing circuit so livestock can maximize their energy consumption with less food, according to Provenza.
“Nobody likes to eat the same thing over and over again,” said Provenza. “You have to eat a variety of foods to get all the different nutrients you need.”
Provenza believes that by understanding palpability, we can train livestock to eat weeds and save them from eating poisonous plants.
Provenza believes that his research is applicable to humans and can help keep people healthy, preventing diseases such as obesity and diabetes by comparing and contrasting the diets of humans and animals.
“To me, it’s about people and our relationship with our landscape and the health of soil, plants, and people as a part of that cycle,” said Provenza.
By: Frank Garza