Livestock Innovation
Brought to you by LRIC
June 16, 2020
Innovation Insights
Mike McMorris, LRIC CEO

The empty plate

At the recent LRIC annual general meeting, we welcomed three new directors to the Board: Jean Szkotnicki , past Executive Director of the Canadian Animal Health Institute; Jim White , past General Manager with Impact Vet; and Franco Nacarrato , Executive Director with Meat and Poultry Ontario. 

The experience that these three individuals bring will help ensure that LRIC is successful in driving innovation in the livestock sector.

Annual meetings are a point to reflect and the following note in our annual report captured a key message to everyone along the food supply chain:

The past few months have challenged every part of society as together we grappled with a pandemic, the likes of which none of us has seen before. In Ontario, and in Canada, we too often take the necessities of life for granted. Food is one of those necessities. Every job in the food supply chain: farmer, trucker, processor, grocery store worker and local markets are now more recognized for the important role they play. Thanks to each and every one of you that ensured that our plates were not empty.

We may well be living though a moment in history that will become noteworthy for the amount of change that it inspires. If simultaneous pandemic, economic melt-down, world-wide equality protests and reaching a critical juncture with climate change don’t add up to significant change, nothing will. If the future is to be different, who gets to decide what that looks like?
First and foremost, anyone wanting to provide input to that future should understand that “ Different isn’t always better, but better is always different ”. And so, hanging onto status quo just because it is comfortable is not a viable option. Livestock agriculture will not be immune to significant change in the coming months and years. Leaders, within formal structures and organizations as well as those less formally involved, will need to be open-minded, creative and bold to ensure that the industry secures a solid future.
Open calls for Letters of Intent
The following calls for research Letters of Intent are currently open or opening soon:

Ontario Pork call for proposals, opens July 27, 2020
LRIC in the news
LRIC regularly submits news articles to Ontario and Canadian livestock and poultry publications. Here are the latest:

Top biosecurity tips from the experts , Canadian Poultry, May 2020

Grid variation , Ontario Hog Farmer, June/July 2020
Poultry: Protecting broiler chickens from heart disease
University of Saskatchewan researchers have found that heart issues in fast-growing broiler chickens could be linked to how their genes respond to epigenetic factors like nutrition and their environment. Heart failure problems in broilers are associated with more than $1 billion in annual losses globally.

Swine: Early clinical trials for ASF vaccine showing positive results
There is good news coming out of China where trials of a new African Swine Fever vaccine are showing some positive early results. The vaccine discovery was first announced in March and proceeded very quickly into clinic trials, which are still ongoing.

Beef: Impact of transport on cattle welfare
Researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and University of Guelph have teamed up to examine the impact of rest stop duration and quality during transport on the welfare of feeder calves. Calves from Western Canada often make the trip East for finishing in Ontario feedlots and public scrutiny of livestock transport in Canada is on the rise. Results are expected by March 2022.

Dairy: Reducing dairy's water footprint
Canadian researchers are looking at how the dairy industry can reduce its water use footprint. The three major objectives are to identify best practices for reducing in-barn water use and increase efficiency, find ways to better manage heat stress in dairy cows, and evaluate practical treatment options for liquid silage waste.

Sheep: EuroSheep working to improve flock profitability
A European sheep network is asking sheep farmers across that continent to help identify the most common nutrition and health challenges faced by the sector. This input will help direct the research and activity priorities of the network with the goal of improving flock health and profitability.

Aquaculture: Autonomous fish farm feeding system unveiled
Automation and artificial intelligence have come together in a new autonomous fish farm feeding system by Norwegian company CageEye. The system is said to improve feed performance by at least 10% by reducing feed waste and improving fish growth.

Consumer perceptions: Can innovation soothe consumer fears?
Technologies like CRISPR promise huge potential for both crop and livestock production around the world and future food security. Consumer perceptions and a growing distrust of science could hold back that promise - despite a growing population and climate change concerns.

Alternative proteins: Farming the air
A U.S start-up, Air Protein, has developed a novel technology to make meat out of elements of the air, such as carbon dioxide. Finnish researchers are working on a protein produced from soil bacteria fed on hydrogen split from water with electricity. Both approaches are inspired by NASA food research for the space program in the 1960s.

On the horizon
Smart farming: the playing field isn't level around the world
How fast smart farming technology is developed and adopted is driven by geography, politics and regulation. In some Asian countries, for example, regulations for use of new or novel technologies is less strict than in Europe or North America.

Regenerative agriculture: opportunities arising from COVID-19?
The U.S.-based Croatan Institute is surveying regenerative grain and livestock supply chains for investment opportunities. The goal is to identify approaches and solutions that could support a more regenerative food system - many smaller, more localized food producers have seen skyrocketing demand as a result of the pandemic which has also exposed many vulnerabilities across supply chains.

Thanks for reading. We'd love to hear your feedback about LRIC - both about what we're doing and what you think we should be doing! Please contact us at with any questions or comments.