Livestock Innovation
Brought to you by LRIC
March 16, 2020
Innovation Insights
Mike McMorris, LRIC CEO
Empty Buckets
Over the course of my career, I have lost track of the number of times that I heard someone at an ag meeting say that “we just need to educate consumers”. 

That can work if consumers have an “empty bucket” that they want filled… but most don’t. The empty bucket theory suggests that if we fill someone’s bucket with science and data, they will change their mind. 

Food consumers are no different than the rest of us; they make decisions and take positions mostly based on emotion and all of the experiences they have lived.  

As much as we all think science and facts rule, they don’t. You must have the science and facts in your back pocket, but too often agriculture leads with that and consumers simply tune out. 

In a world where too many people are starting to believe that "livestock agriculture = bad”, all livestock producer groups need to ensure that their sector has no bad actors and then work together to better influence consumers belief that “livestock = good”.
Ontario Sheep Farmers open research call
Ontario Sheep Farmers have announced a research call for proposals. Letters of Intent are due by April 10,2020, with full proposals solicited in June and proposal approvals in place by September. OSF's research priorities and full call information is available on their website.

Poultry: Floating farm brings egg production to the city
A layer farm on the water is under construction in Rotterdam, next to the world's first floating dairy farm. Owners say production will be fully transparent for consumers, but also feature the latest in egg production and flock management technology.

Swine: Fermented rapeseed meal boosts piglet growth
Researchers from University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University in Denmark have found that fermented rapeseed meal is as effective as zinc oxide in stimulating piglet growth, intestinal development and health. Feeding medical zinc oxide to weaner pigs is being phased out in the European Union after 2022, so the sector is searching for replacement options.

Beef: No link found between human antimicrobial resistance and cattle use
A research team led by Dr. Tim McAllister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has found no evidence to indicate that antimicrobial resistance in beef cattle is being transmitted to humans. The researchers discovered that enterococcus bacteria found in cattle and those that pose a serious threat to human health are actually entirely different species.

Dairy: Vitamin B12 better absorbed from dairy products
Research has found that humans absorb Vitamin B12 better when it is consumed via cow's milk than as a supplement. Next to cow's milk, cheddar cheese is one of the best natural sources of the vitamin, which helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy.

Sheep: Measuring the impact of water on behaviour
A series of studies is underway in New Zealand to evaluate the impact of water on the productivity of sheep. Specifically, researchers will look at how offering water affects lambs, non-pregnant and pregnant ewes and lactating ewes.

Aquaculture: Demystifying fish farming
Aquaculture can play a leading role in the production of high quality food, and the search is on for technologies to make the sector as sustainable as possible.

Cellular agriculture: Giving lab-grown meat "real" texture
Harvard researchers have taken cellular or lab-grown meat a step closer to the real thing by giving it "real" texture. They've been able to grow rabbit and cattle muscle cells on edible gelatin scaffolds that mimic the texture and consistency of real meat. Reproducing skeletal muscle fibres is one of the biggest challenges of cellular agriculture.

Automation: Sugar-cane capsule monitors livestock
A South Korean start-up has developed a non-toxic sugarcane capsule to monitor an animal's health throughout its life. The IoT device is designed to be swallowed by the animal and transmit physical data from inside the animal over 300 times per day, including body temperature, ruminal pH and the drinking cycle. It contains markers for about 40 different livestock diseases, including mastitis, foot and mouth disease and sepsis.

On the Horizon
One health: Human antibiotic resistance moving to animals
New results from South Carolina's Clemson University show that antibiotic resistance genes in humans are being transmitted to livestock, companion animals and wildlife. There is no definitive answer yet as to how this is occurring, but transmission via animal handling or waste water run off are two suspected sources.

Agtech: Agri-food tech investments grow 250% in five years
There's no question technology in agriculture and food is here to stay - and globally, investors are continuing to direct resources into this field. In 2019, $19.8 billion US was invested into start-ups by 2,344 unique investors into 1,858 deals, up from only $5.7 billion in 2014. Top funding categories were e-grocery, cloud retail infrastructure and restaurant marketplaces; ag biotechnology was the top agricultural category, accounting for 6% of agri-food tech investment.

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.