June 2021

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John Basarab: new Head of Beef Operations at Gentec

After 30+ years as a Beef Scientist with the Alberta government, John Basarab transitioned to UAlberta and Gentec to advance solutions to industry challenges. Find out here what drove the move and what to expect from him now. Welcome, John!

Who is Kira Macmillan? Gentec’s new extension specialist

Kira Macmillan, Gentec’s new extension specialist, tells us what makes her tick, and how that will help in her new role. Read more here. Welcome, Kira!

Introducing Gleise M. Silva: the new BCRC-Hays chair in Beef Production System

In May, we were very excited to announce that Gleise M. Silva was the inaugural  BCRC-Hays Chair in Beef Production Systems. Gleise will be working with prairie farmers and ranchers to find ways to cut the cost of raising cattle while reducing their carbon footprint. We point you to these two (here and here) articles about her, as a get-to-know-you-better. Welcome, Gleise!

Come and chat with us at AgSmart in Olds, Alberta

Gentec is going to have a pretty big footprint at the upcoming AgSmart event (see Events below). We are a Silver-level partner and an exhibitor. Please check out John Basarab's presentation, and come visit Kira Macmillan and the team at our booth.

At AgSmart, ranchers will have an opportunity to interact with cutting-edge high-tech ag players and experience the latest innovations first-hand. The show features education workshops, in-field demonstrations, and an exhibit fair profiling some of the latest products that are transforming agriculture in Alberta and elsewhere.

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF): Why everyone interested in beef genetics and technology should attend

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) symposium is an annual convention that brings together beef researchers, technology providers, extension specialist, graduate students of beef genetics, and primary beef producers. Typically held in June, the convention rotates across US states, and has also been held in Calgary, Canada. In fact, BIF 2023 is scheduled to be held in Calgary, Canada just prior to the 2023 Calgary Stampede. The convention is a great way to advance the Federation’s mandate to connect science and industry to improve beef cattle genetics.

Kajal Devani, who provided the BIF Symposium report, is Director of Science and Technology for the Canadian Angus Association. Kajal has a long history with UAlberta and Gentec. Gentec CEO Graham Plastow was the thesis supervisor for her Master's. Today, we're delighted to congratulate her on recently defending her PhD on the genetic and economic implications of teat and udder structure in Canadian Angus Cattle. Her studies were supervised by Professor Karin Orsel at UCVM. Some of her work included collaboration with Gentec staff.

Alberta Innovates liked Arm-Chair Ranching so much, it became the headline

In May, Alberta Innovates announced the results of its Smart Agriculture and Food Digitization and Automation Challenge funding competition. Gentec CEO Graham Plastow's Arm-Chair Ranching project to develop an app for ranch management was one of the eight funded--and was catchy enough to become the headline. Read more here and here. And listen to Kira Macmillan's interview on the subject with The Drive (a radio station in Calgary) here.

The theme of smart farming is also taken up here, with Dean Stan Blade (a member of Gentec's Management Advisory Board) indicating how technology will help address the challenges facing Canada’s farms and ranches. Arm-Chair Rancher is another example of how these elements come together in an exciting way and provide new opportunities for the next generation to secure our food future. We anticipate more examples at Gentec in the near future.

John Basarab on TV

Dianne Finstad, with Frontline Farming Canada, is conducting a series of interviews with Gentec's John Basarab on the use of genomic tools to increase efficiency, profitability and sustainability in the beef industry. In the first segment, John discusses hybrid vigour and its potential to improve the health, performance and sustainability of Alberta's beef herds. See if you can find the shows on RFD-TV (through Shaw Satellite and Telus Optik).

Event report: ASGGN Discussion Forum

Ghader Manafiazar, Assistant Professor, Dalhousie; Researcher, UAlberta; and former Gentec alumnus attended the Forum, which focused on methane emissions in livestock. Read more here.

The future of beef is resilient

Even though meat technology has made great strides in recent years, it isn't nearly ready to reach our plates on a large scale. In the meantime, with the help of Gentec/UAlberta alumni and staff (such as Karin Schmid who did her Master's under the guidance of former Gentec CEO Steve Moore; John Basarab, now Head of Beef Operations at Gentec; and the university’s new BCRC-Hays Chair in Beef Production Systems, Gleise M. Silva) are building the knowledge blocks that lead to more feed-efficient cattle. Read more here.

A few good bulls

Selective breeding of Holstein cows has led to so much inbreeding that virtually all of them descend from just two bulls. Some geneticists think that’s a problem. As with everything, there are pros and cons. Gentec-associated researcher at UoGuelph, Christine Baes, suggests the risks are worth it. Read more here.

COVID-19 and agriculture: a year in review, and a look forward

In FARE Share's COVID-19 Special Issue last spring, contributors made predictions in their areas of expertise on the impact on Canada’s agriculture and food sectors. One year later, they’re back with their findings. Download the 5-article PDF here.

COVID-19 changed how we process, ship and shop for food. What supply chain changes will stay into the future?  Sven Anders, a professor in the UAlberta’s Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, and Gentec-associated researcher Ellen Goddard, provide their insight based on the past year. Read more here.


July 7-10. National Holstein Convention
July 9, 16, 23, 30. Annual Southern Alberta Grazing School for Women
July 11-14 . American Dairy Science Association annual meeting.
July 14-18. ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting and Trade Show. Louisville, KT, USA
July 14-16. Peace Country Soil Health Academy School. Manning, AB
July 26-30. International Society for Animal Genetics Conference
August 10-11. AgSmart. Olds, AB
August 10-12. Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show. Nashville, USA
August 17-19. Canadian Beef Industry Conference, Penticton, BC
August 24-26. Global African Swine Fever Research Alliance. Kampala, Uganda
August 25-26. North American Manure Expo

The Lighter Side: Smart as a pig

It's not easy to play video games if you have poor eyesight and no thumbs but these pigs did--demonstrating how smart and adaptable they are. See more here.
© 2021, Livestock Gentec

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Livestock Gentec · 2-31 General Services Bldg · University of Alberta · Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1 · Canada

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