E de la Garza Institute for Goat Research Langston University
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Central Laboratory

There have been many improvements to our laboratory facilities and instruments in the last few years. Examples of this are a high pressure liquid chromatograph for primary use in amino acid analysis; syringe infusion pumps allowing conduct of new types of infusion experiments; a hemoximeter unit for determination of hemoglobin concentration as well as oxygen saturation of hemoglobin; and a supercritical fluid extraction system determination of total lipids. An Optical Fiber Density Analyzer was installed to replace the Fiber Diameter Analyzer. An ANKOM in vitro rumen incubation system and a filter bag system for neutral and acid detergent fiber assays were introduced to replace the previous individual refluxing and filtering system, and an inductively coupled plasma emission spectrometer for mineral analyses replaced a directly coupled plasma emission spectrophotometer.

A gas chromatograph with an automated sampler was introduced to facilitate rapid analyses of long-chain fatty acids and blood volatile fatty acids, while at the same time determining concentrations of volatile fatty acids in ruminal fluid. The incorporation of a video monitor with the microscope in the fiber/histology unit used for follicle assays increased speed of measuring fiber follicle activity as well as decreasing user fatigue. An automated sampler for a Technicon autoanalyzer system and a microplate reader system were added to decrease chemical and labor costs. Other equipment in the laboratory include the stable isotope analyzer (15N and 13C), automated absorption spectrophotomer, and electronic balances linked to personal computers.

There are many different types of samples analyzed in the laboratory, including feedstuffs, forage, digesta, tissues (typically meat), blood, animal fiber, fecal material, urine, skin biopsy samples, and milk. Many assays are fairly common, such as dry matter, ash, nitrogen, energy, and fiber fractions. However, there are many other more specialized analyses, including condensed tannins, purines, individual amino acids and minerals, and indigestible feed components. Tissue samples are often analyzed for specific fatty acids in addition to total lipids. Ruminal fluid is usually analyzed for concentrations of ammonia, volatile fatty acids, and purines. Common blood analyses are urea, glucose, packed cell volume, and various hormones. Mohair and cashmere fiber assays include yield, diameter, and length, and follicle activity is characterized also.

Skilled, trained personnel are required to perform the range of assays conducted in the laboratory and to run and maintain the instruments. In addition to permanent personnel in the lab, undergraduate students, Visiting Scholars, graduate students, and research faculty participate in laboratory analyses. With the appreciable amount of research and laboratory assays conducted, as well as the large number of people working in the lab, protocols developed for specific experiments and a 'Laboratory Request Form' are important tools for maintaining organization and achieving accurate and fast results.