October 2016

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Highlights of LGC 2016

Couldn't attend Gentec's annual conference last week? Not to worry. Over the next months, we'll be adding videos of the speakers' presentations to the newsletter.

First off, though, let's highlight the over all event. See here what a great learning (and fun) experience this conference is.

The genomics of mink

With all species in the livestock sector implementing genomics to improve quality, sustainability and bottom lines, the fur industry wasn't to be far behind.

Former Gentec PhD student and current professor at Dalhousie University, Younes Miar is part of the only team in North America to explore what genomics might do for this sector of the Canadian economy. Read more here.

Microsoft Excel is no friend to genomics

The Economist reports on an study in Genome Biology on the growing number of spreadsheet errors in journal papers, particularly in the field of genomics. Read about the implications here.


ChangXi Li is now AAFC Chair in Bovine Genomics and Full (adjunct) Professor at UAlberta in the Faculty of ALES. He was also promoted within Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. He indicates this stems from the co-location at Gentec/UAlberta and the opportunities for collaboration.

Two agricultural leaders with links to Gentec were inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame on October 7.
  • John Kennelly, former Dean of the UAlberta’s Faculty of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences dedicated nearly 40 years to improving agriculture in Alberta, focusing on the dairy industry--directly through his own research on feeding systems and indirectly by establishing the annual Western Canadian Dairy Seminar, now in its 35th year. During his time at UAlberta, he earned his own PhD, taught thousands of students and saw externally-funded research increase by 250% from $14.2 million to $49.8 million. John is a strong supporter of Gentec and its predecessor, the Alberta Bovine Genomics Program; he was a member of Gentec’s Management Advisory Board.
  • After immigrating to Canada, long-time Alberta cattleman Cor Van Raay spawned a collection of business that spanned grain sales, ag-implements dealerships, packing plants and the feedlot operations that would become one of the largest in Canada. Gentec researchers have been guests at the Van Raay operation on numerous occasions and involved in a project looking at the genomics of meat quality and shear force (tenderness) as well as feeding regimes and the incidence of liver abscesses.

Catch up on your reading

Improving sustainability of beef industry supply chains, Goddard, E, et al. This article explores producers' incentives to adopt green cattle traits through breeding technologies and reduce costs at the same time.

Genetic mutation in 14% of Holsteins costs industry $420 million worldwide

Just like Queen Victoria's descendants spread hemophilia into nearly all the royal houses of Europe, a genetic mutation in just one prolific Holstein bull caused about 100,000 midterm abortions over the years. Find who the culprit was and more about this mutation here.

Farewell to ALMA

ALMA hosted a final FutureFare before winding up operations and transferring its programs to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Read a summary of the event here.

The last speaker for the Words from Industry session was Jay Cross, chair of Gentec's board. He focused on how genomics is helping advance the beef industry through improvements in production efficiency. He also provided one last proposal--the Canadian Beef Improvement Network--to enhance data-sharing for genomics.

Seaweed: the next tool in the war against cow burps

Researcher Rob Kinley has has positive results in reducing methane emissions in sheep by feeding them Australian seaweed. His next objective is to validate the results in cows. Read more here.

In the news...


Bull semen is the new oil

Canada has become a global leader in the export of high-quality bull semen. This article explores the math behind the "straws" and the efficiency of AI with Gentec associate Christine Baes at her family farm.

Gentec grad students evaluate feed efficiency

Carly Moore and Nicky Lansink strapped pedometers onto cows' legs and GPS collars around their necks to find out how cows roam and whether it affects feed efficiency. Read their preliminary results here.

Upcoming events

November 1-18. North American International Livestock Exposition. Louisville, Kentucky.
November 2-3. Traceability Symposium 2016. Calgary, AB
November 4-13. Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Toronto, ON
November 9-13. Farmfair International. Edmonton,  AB
November 15-17. Canadian Forage and Grassland Assn Conference. Winnipeg, MB
November 21-26. Canadian Western Agribition. Regina, MB
November 22-24. Agricultural Excellence Conference. Calgary, AB

$1.75 million for Olds College's Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production

NSERC is funding a new research facility aimed at livestock production at Olds College. One of its objectives will be to help producers bridge the gap between science and implementing it on their own operations. Read more here.

The lighter side: Gentec spooktacular

Whoever said the halls of academia are stuffy hasn't been to this office!

L-R: YeeYing (Delta), Tara (visiting PDF Teagasc), Dawn (Gentec knowledge transfer), Jackson (Gentec lab technician), Mike (AAFC/Gentec), and Mary (project manager dairy)
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