Livestock Innovation
Brought to you by LRIC
February 18, 2020
Innovation Insights
Mike McMorris, LRIC CEO
I recently heard Jeff Fitzpatrick-Stilwell, Head of Sustainability and Agriculture for McDonald's Canada, speak at the AgSights annual meeting. 

Jeff lives in the world between farmers and consumers and he has a message that every farmer needs to hear: documented sustainable production will become the baseline for livestock production. 

Most livestock sectors have implemented some sort of on-farm program, some being mandatory while others rely on market signals to drive uptake. 

McDonald's has taken a long-term collaborative approach with industry as they work to meet changing consumer demands. Their work with Cargill has resulted in 7.4 million pounds of certified sustainable beef to date. McDonald's Canada alone uses 70 million pounds of ground beef per year so there is a long way to go. 

You may have heard that McDonald's recently introduced the PLT (plant, lettuce and tomato) to their menu. This move will make some in the beef industry angry but get this: other burger chains that have introduced a plant-based option have seen their beef patty sales increase.  

There are groups of people that avoid a restaurant that does not have a plant-based option because one in the group won’t eat meat… and so they head to a restaurant that can meet all of their desires. 

Producer organizations and companies like McDonald's have put tremendous effort into programs that will position their sector to meet consumer demand. Getting on board won’t be optional forever.
News: Egg Farmers of Canada call for Letters of Intent open
Egg Farmers of Canada's call for Letters of Intent is open and researchers are invited to complete and submit the funding application form. EFC is proud to support Canadian research in a variety of disciplines including animal care science, environment and sustainability, end of flock management, and animal and human nutrition at universities across the country.
All funding applications must be received by March 13, 2020 .

Poultry: Shortening the rearing period of broiler breeders
A University of Georgia study has found that sexual maturity in broiler breeder pullets can be reached more quickly by using light and alternative feeding strategies.

Swine: Grow-finisher pigs on straw eat more
Scientists at two Danish universities have found that pigs housed in pens that have straw on the concrete floor have greater feed intake. The more straw provided, the higher the average daily gain, which researchers attribute to improved gut health as a result of the pigs eating both more feed and more straw.

Beef: Trace mineral source matters, research shows
According to research from the University of Florida, organic trace mineral supplementation has benefits of inorganic counterparts. This includes increased pregnancy rates, weaning weight and calf immunity.

Dairy: New "cure" to tackle mastitis
An Israeli company has adapted acoustic pulse technology used in human health care to treat inflammatory diseases for use in dairy cattle against mastitis. Early trials show a success rate of over 70%. Mastitis has traditionally been treated with antibiotics, but the industry is seeking new solutions in an effort to reduce antimicrobial use in livestock production.

Sheep: Sheep milk more easily digestible than cow's milk, says NZ study
New research from New Zealand suggests sheep milk could be ideally suited for the elderly or the very young due to its unique composition. Scientists in what is believed to be the first human study into sheep milk digestibility found people could more readily digest milk protein and convert fat into energy from sheep's milk compared to cow's milk.

Aquaculture: New technology to enhance salmon farming
New technologies offer commercial scale solutions to improve the performance of salmon farms in British Columbia, but the industry must also consider environmental sustainability.

Sustainability: Crop diversification for healthier cows and lower costs
For sustainability to work on-farm, it must address all three pillars - economic,environmental and social. Crop diversification is one way farms can try to improve their sustainability while fulfilling all three pillars.

Cellular agriculture: Nutreco partners with Mosa Meat
Dutch animal nutrition and fish feed company Nutreco has formed a strategic partnership with Mosa Meat, the company that developed the first cultivated or cell-based hamburger. According to Mosa Meats, it needs nutrients Nutreco can supply to help drive down the cost of cell-based meat.

On the Horizon
Animal health: Respiratory diseases in young livestock have lasting effects
Research shows that respiratory diseases in young livestock, particularly calves, can have long-term effects on those animals. Beyond the initial illness, it can result in reduce milk production and lower reproductive performance.

Gene editing: We can alter entire species, but should we?
Gene editing can have tremendous benefit for human and animal health, but moral and ethical questions remain about whether humanity should go down that road. This particular article is about genetic engineering of mosquitoes to prevent malaria - but the principles behind the debate apply equally to livestock agriculture.

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.