On The Cover:
The Top of Their Game
Genetic Research is Improving Fertility and Health
Fertility can be improved through genetics.
This surprises some producers because traditional fertility traits have low heritability. Now, several research activities are proving it’s possible.
More from this issue
Your Dollars at Work: Leadership Through Research Investment
Ontario producers fund $2.2 million in research every year, one of the highest contributions of any agricultural commodity group in Ontario.
Five cents from every hectolitre of milk sold are reinvested into research. Another 2.2 cents are shared with Dairy Farmers of Canada to fund additional research at a national level.
DFO Funding Spotlight
Last year, University of Guelph researchers, leaders in the field of antimicrobial stewardship, received more than $3 million from Ontario Research Fund (ORF) for their projects.
One, Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Health and Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) researcher Dr. David Kelton, received $959,000 for his research into antimicrobial stewardship solutions in the Ontario dairy sector. DFO contributed nearly $540,000.
Dairy Genetics - Then and Now
Social scientists have conducted surveys to capture snapshots in time of public attitudes toward gene editing and other new technologies applied to farm animals, but little is known about how these views change over time. Historians have recently become more interested in this topic, partly because studying past technologies can help us anticipate potential trajectories for new technologies like gene editing.
Breeding programs are very individual and many factors go into choosing the right one for the farm’s needs.
Many Ontario dairy farmers are eager to implement one or many tools into their herd management and genetic programs, carefully monitoring results and tweaking the approach as needed. Here’s a look at how four farms have implemented new genetic technologies to manage their breeding programs, why they chose to adopt the methods and the difference the approach is making in their herds, production and management.
The Ideal Canadian Milking Cow of the Future
Picture this: A “trouble-free” cow that is unobtrusive on the farm.
She gets pregnant easily, calves unassisted and thrives in her environment. She has a good mammary system with a functional conformation that is well-suited for a longer productive life. She milks fast and easily, produces high-quality milk and is resistant to disease and various health issues. She can also be described as a sustainable cow who is efficient and resilient.
Profile - Allison Fleming
ALLISON FLEMING is hooked on genetics.
It happened in an undergraduate classroom at the University of Guelph and there’s been no turning back.
“It’s a field where you can apply genetic principles and methodology to many different areas in dairy production or animal production,” says Fleming of genetics’ breadth and depth. “You can go from talking about fertility to production to milk composition to type and confirmation. It’s a really diverse field and combines a lot of my interests.”
Setting the Course for the Future of Ontario's Livestock Innovation System
Innovation is an essential source of solutions to help solve many of the big issues facing animal agriculture, from climate change and environmental impacts to antimicrobial resistance and animal health and welfare.
According to Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) CEO Mike McMorris, although Ontario has a very good livestock innovation system, there is always room to do things better.
Investment in research returns value to Ontario’s dairy sector.
Through Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Ontario producers directly fund $2.2 million in research every year, one of the highest contributions of any agricultural commodity group in Ontario.
Beyond the Holstein
The Holstein and its iconic black and white patches are synonymous with dairy. The breed accounts for more than 90 per cent of Ontario’s milking cows.
There are many other breeds being actively milked in the province, with physical characteristics, origin, production capabilities, and other facts that make them special. These genetic strengths and weaknesses are the basis of why producers choose one breed over another.