In a move to address the dramatic global demand for safe, high-quality protein-based food sources, Colorado State University has announced the creation of a first-of-its-kind collaborative to support profitable, sustainable and healthy livestock production.

The Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative is designed for CSU livestock and animal health experts to work alongside industry, government and other stakeholders in addressing 21st-century challenges as well as training current and future livestock industry professionals.

Spearheaded by the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine, the collaborative will look at enhancing sustainable and healthy livestock systems through the examination of new technologies and disease treatments, as well as soil, plant, animal and atmospheric microbiomes, among other areas.

CSU has tapped into expertise from across the university, as well as industry, in designing the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative. This includes input from the Colorado Beef Council, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Farm Bureau and the Colorado Livestock Association as well as the Warner College of Natural Resources, the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, CSU Extension and others.

As part of the initiative, CSU has launched a national search for a director who will lead a cadre of new faculty members in areas such as epidemiology, meat science, infectious disease, diagnostics, nutrition and livestock production. The new director is expected to be on board this summer, with as many as a dozen faculty members to be hired over the next four years.

James Pritchett, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, noted that the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative would work hand-in-hand with the 21st-century land-grant mission.

"The collaborative is an intentional and impactful collection of scientists, educators and industry professionals all aligned to meet society's greatest challenges," he said. "We are using innovation and creativity to pose important questions, co-create science with diverse partners at the table, and then ensure that all have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of our shared endeavors. It's knowledge creation at its best. Success is not only answering the questions of today but is also building a nimble and adaptive collection of talent to meet tomorrow's challenges."

The committee that helped take the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative from a recommendation to reality is composed of more than two-dozen individuals.

"We're trying to envision what society's problems will be," said Keith Belk, head of the Department of Animal Sciences, who is leading the search for the collaborative's director. "As the population continues to grow and as land and water become more valuable resources, we have to figure out how we are going to still produce enough food for up to as many as 12.3 billion people by the year 2100."

Belk stressed the importance of working closely with the livestock industry to provide research and training that meets its needs.

CSU Extension will play a critical role in providing outreach and engagement with the livestock community in sharing research and information from the collaborative. The collaborative will also bolster educational opportunities for students interested in livestock and equine sciences.