Research to improve farm animal health by reducing or preventing common diseases involves several researchers at the veterinary college. Two viral diseases in cattle account for much of the financial loss experienced by farmers annually. UT researchers have as a goal the production of safe and effective vaccines with selected virus proteins synthesized in the laboratory to combat the bovine viral diarrhea virus and the respiratory syncytial virus.
Ingesting parasites through grazing is another problem that afflicts many Tennessee cattle and horses. Research at the college is investigating patterns of parasite transmission and is evaluating, and in some cases, re-evaluating drugs to reduce the problem. An additional problem stemming from animals grazing is toxicity resulting from ingesting fescue grass or hay. Fescue toxicity can cause decreases in milk production, reproduction and weight, and is common in Tennessee and much of the humid Southeast. Researchers are studying the animal's blood vessels, which are constricted by the alkaloids present in toxic fescue.