Genomic studies for fertility, health, and efficiency traits in dairy cattle - Year two

The advent of genomic selection in the dairy industry has increased genetic progress; however, new challenges are emerging. Rapid population growth and associated demographic and economic changes are increasing global demand for dairy products. Moreover, the industry must address several societal and consumer issues such as human health, animal health and welfare, and the environmental footprint (e.g., greenhouse gases, antibiotic and hormone use).

Bison Integrated Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies for Germplasm Biobanking (BIG ART)

Bison symbolizes the evolution of the Canada’s ecosystem and the physical and spiritual wellbeing of its human inhabitants. The species underwent a near-extinction event in the late 19th century. Wood bison recovery continues to be threatened today by genetic bottlenecks, hybridization and diseases transmissible to livestock and humans.

Evaluation of Hemp Seed Products to Ameliorate Fatty Liver Disease and Reduce Cannibalism in Laying Hens

Laying hens need a reliable source of protein and energy for egg production and maintenance that does not induce fatty liver disease (FLD). As egg production moves in the direction of group housing scenarios, more management techniques, including nutritional management, that reduce losses due to feather pecking and cannibalism will also be required. Hemp has anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent FLD. It has anti-microbial properties that may positively affect the gut microbiome of chickens.

Using qualitative and longitudinal methods to understand dairy farmer stress and mental health as they relate to farm management, barn design, automation, and animal welfare

In a world where animal health and welfare are receiving increasing attention, it is crucial that we understand and support livestock farmers who are under an incredible amount of stress. This research is designed to start a supportive discussion and to collect information on the topic of farmer mental health in the beef and dairy industry, including factors affecting mental health and connections with animal health. We will survey beef and dairy farmers to gain a better understanding of how they are doing and which factors are related to their mental health.

Development of an equine metabolism model to describe post-absorptive nutrient dynamics in the mature horse

Mechanistic models of nutrient digestion, absorption, metabolism, and growth are implemented in industry as ‘decision support systems’ for modern feed formulation and diet optimization, and in academia as research and teaching tools. However, in the equine sector, there has been little focus in modelling which limits the ability of the equine sector to address complex challenges such as interactions between equine nutrition, management, health and welfare. The aim of this proposal is to develop a mechanistic model of post-absorptive nutrient metabolism in mature horses.

Functional plant materials to boost growth performance, gastrointestinal health, antioxidation, and immunity in heat-stressed and necrotic enteritis challenged broiler chickens.

The annual heat-related losses incurred in the broiler sector alone were estimated at $51.8 million. Given current climate change realities and increasing poultry demand, it is safe to assume that these estimates would further increase. Similarly, subclinical necrotic enteritis (NE) reduced growth and productivity at an estimated cost of $6 billion annually in 2015. Prophylactic antibiotic administration is the primary means of prevention of NE.

Effects of sow grouping practices on reproductive performance and piglet development in relation to prenatal stress

After being bred, sows are commonly housed in individual stalls, which restricts their movement and impacts their well-being. For this reason, Canadian farmers are transitioning to housing sows in groups where sows have social interaction and greater movement. Groups can be formed right after breeding, with either a constant group (static: the same sows remain together until farrowing) or with smaller groups of sows being periodically removed and replaced (dynamic).

Improving early feed intake of newly hatched broiler chicks raised without antibiotics using light during incubation

Traditionally commercial poultry is incubated and hatched in the dark. There are indications that significant benefits could be realized from providing light to developing chicken embryos during incubation. These indications include chicks that eat and drink more upon arrival at the farm. This early feeding behavior should improve the health and survival of baby chicks and could be a valuable management practice especially now that the Canadian industry is transitioning away from the use of antibiotics to boost the health of chicks early in life.

How are dairy farmer stress and occupational health (mental and physical) related to farm management, barn design, automation, and animal welfare?

In a world where animal health and welfare are receiving increasing attention, it is crucial that we understand and support livestock farmers who are under an incredible amount of stress. This research is designed to start a supportive discussion and to collect information on the topic of farmer mental health in the beef and dairy industry, including factors affecting mental health and connections with animal health. We will survey beef and dairy farmers to gain a better understanding of how they are doing and which factors are related to their mental health.

Improving competitiveness and sustainability of pork production through increase in feed efficiency, improved carcass quality and higher animal welfare standards by innovative application of microbiome profiling, and computed tomography

Efficient animal production with a reduced environmental impact requires healthy animals, higher performance, increased feed conversion, and the use of available nutrients. The improvement of those traits could be accomplished by understanding how the gut microbiome plays a vital role in nutrient digestion and feed efficiency.

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