Improving the Performance of Forages on the Canadian Prairies

In 2012, the estimated value of forage in Canada was $5.1 Billion. Forages are the foundation for the beef and dairy sectors which have a combined economic activity of $50 Billion. However we have recently seen a loss of nearly 2.2 Million acres of pasture land across Canada, which means productivity from our remaining forage lands must improve for the future competitiveness of the beef industry. This project contains 4 research activities on alternative forages and improved technologies that will increase the productivity and quality of the forage industry in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Improved veterinary diagnostics for tapeworms

Dogs can be infected with several species of tapeworms, but show no obvious symptoms. Tapeworms are generally diagnosed by detection of microscopic eggs produced by the parasites that are passed in the dog's stool. However, this technique is not ideal, as eggs are not always passed in stool, different tapeworms produce visually similar eggs, and this requires an experienced diagnostician. Therefore, false negatives are common. There is increasing interest in techniques to directly detect DNA of parasites in stool of dogs. Aquila Diagnostics Systems Inc.

Impact of feeding and vaccination strategies on carcass outcomes in beef cattle

In western Canada, increased nutrient demand associated with decreased temperatures and increased fetal growth may lead to nutrient deficiencies in pregnant cattle. Compromised maternal nutrition can impact fetal muscle development, body weight gain, hot carcass weight, back fat and marbling. Vaccination strategy may also impact carcass outcomes of the offspring. Carcass evaluation is necessary to determine if these reactions persist until slaughter.

Development of low-cost feeding strategies for group-housed gestating sows - Year 2

Feed restriction in gestating sows is required to prevent excessive body weight gain and the associated negative consequences on lactation, locomotion, farrowing, and feed intake during lactation. Aggression and stereotypies associated with restricted feeding become a welfare and production concern when the sows are housed in groups.

Mathematical modeling of B-vitamin supply in dairy cows - Year two

The B vitamin requirements of cattle were traditionally satisfied via rumen microbial synthesis. However, the B vitamin demands of the modern high producing dairy cow now exceed the synthesis rate by rumen microbes, leading to sub-optimal milk production and efficiency. An increased understanding of dietary factors driving ruminal synthesis and use of B vitamins will help identify when supplementation will benefit the cow. Although B vitamin kinetics in the dairy cow have not previously been modelled, data on concentrations and flows are available from extant sources.

Toxicopathological Determination of Safe Dose Ranges of Neonicotinoids for Honey Bee Colonies

The ‘gold standard’ mammalian safety toxicopathological tests are very sensitive and reproducible examinations used by veterinary pathologists in the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies to detect sublethal toxic effects of candidate drugs, pesticides and other chemicals in laboratory animals to determine the safe dose range of these medications/chemicals for humans and animals. However, comparable toxicopathological approaches using histopathology have not been developed for honey bees.

Toward an Understanding of Beautiful Feather Cover in Laying Hens

Feather pecking (FP) in egg-laying hens, where individuals peck repetitively and excessively at other birds to pull out and eat their feathers, is a challenge for the industry with large economic and welfare implications. High prevalence of FP is reported (60-80%) and this is associated with mortality rates of up to 20-40%, which translates to hundreds of millions of birds dying due to FP every year.

Management of group-housed sows: optimizing mixing time and environmental enrichment to improve welfare and productivity

Pork producers in Canada are in the process of transitioning from stall housing to group housing systems for gestating sows. The greatest concern with this change is the problem of aggression when pregnant sows are mixed. Mixing frequently results in aggressive interactions among sows, and can affect reproduction and cause welfare problems. Typically sows are held in stalls for several weeks after insemination to minimize stress during embryo implantation, however there is increasing pressure to reduce the time that sows are kept in stalls.

Assessing survival of triploid oysters compared to diploid controls on farms in NS

A parasite present in the Bras d’Ors Lake in Cape Breton, NS has closed the oyster aquaculture and wild fishery in Cape Breton since the initial outbreak in 2002. This parasite has also affected oysters in the Eastern US. The industry in the US has survived and is stable in part due to the production of triploid oysters. Triploid oysters grow to market size faster and this fast growth rate reduces the time the oyster spends in the wild and therefore reduces the timeframe that the oyster may become infected with the parasite.

Alkaline treated straw and micro machine technology to improve digestive health and profitability of feedlot cattle

This research will investigate use of calcium oxide treated straw (CaOS) to increase fibre levels in wheat-based feedlot cattle finishing diets. In vitro total gas production will be measured to determine the ideal treatment protocol for creation of CaOS. Further in vitro work will compare fibre digestibility of CaOS to untreated straw, barley silage and corn silage as an indicator of nutritional quality. A feeding trial using yearling steers will measure changes in animal performance when 10% silage is replaced with 12% CaOS in finishing diets.

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