Bovines breed research

By Geoff Lee

October 27, 2016 12:00 AM

SAY MOO Kristina Morton, a second year animal science technology student at Lakeland College, shows off the cattle alley in the new Livestock Research Facility that opened Oct. 20.

Even the cows were mooing their approval of the opening of the Livestock Research Facility at Lakeland College in Vermilion.
The 50 Angus beef cows owned by Lakeland are willing subjects for student-led research and development with the current focus on feed efficiency.
“This facility provides an opportunity for Lakeland College to grow our applied research in the livestock area and we are really excited about it,” Diane Harms, director of applied research, said at the official opening on Oct. 20.
“It not only provides us with an opportunity to conduct feed efficiency research, but also to help our students learn about the experience of doing research in the workforce.”
There are 16 students on the Livestock research team that run it as a business as part of Lakeland’s student managed farm.
Their task is to develop a business case for engaging in applied research, not only with producer groups, but also with grant funding and other research agencies across Western Canada.
The research team is currently doing a project on residual feed efficiency for beef cattle headed by second year animal science technology student Casey Finstad, who takes on the general manager’s role.
“So that’s looking at improving how the cattle are going to gain on what they are eating and getting that data back to industry and seeing if they can use it,” said Finstad.
The feed efficiency trial on the 50 cows lasted for about 45 days and resulted in a detailed productivity index for each animal with the research to benefit beef producers.
“They will be able to be more productive in terms of their inputs into the animal feed and the resulting beef animals that they produce,” said Harms.
“It will also result in better tasting beef for the consumer.”
Past projects that have been done in the livestock area include lamb milk replacer, heifer feed efficiency, feeder lamb rotation, beef finishing rations and wet/dry barley feed trials.
The new research facility includes dedicated handling areas and the capacity to host 120 to 140 beef cattle at a time and up to 140 sheep.
There are additional pens throughout the facility to allow for different types of research.
“This is just so amazing when you think about where we were,” said Alice Wainwright-Stewart,  Lakeland’s president.
The research facility is largely credited to financial support from donor Judy Sweet who was presented with an appreciation plaque.
Her donations since 2104, are in memory of her husband Garth, a breeder of purebred Simmental cattle made through her family’s Sportaken Holdings and the Garth Sweet Simmental Foundation.
The funding has allowed for modernization and expansion of the former bull test station.
“These opportunities are only possible because of generous donations such as Judy Sweet and her family with NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada) support with the purchase of equipment that’s in this facility,” said Harms.
The student-led facility will also be doing research on different feed additives for corporations like feed producers to see if they can benefit the industry in that direction too.
“We’re trying to appeal to all directions of agriculture,” said Finstad, who was stoked by the opening.
“This is amazing to see everyone here together and to see there is so much passion behind research in the area.”
The opening of the facility tours of the new cattle and included sheep handling systems and a scale system.
The main 1,000 sq. ft. building is equipped with washrooms and lab space and a demonstration area.
Kristina Morton, another second year member of the livestock research team, spoke about what the improvements mean to the team’s studies.
“I know for a fact that it’s done a lot with just animal handling itself and it will help us improve how we are able to manage the cattle as well as feed them in a better more efficient way,” she said.
The facility also uses GrowSafe technology for monitoring the individual feed intake of animals.
Lakeland’s student-managed farm also features crop, dairy, sheep, commercial beef, purebred beef, stewardship and sustainability and crop research units.

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