Playing the Long Game:

Playing the Long Game:Capturing Value in Livestock Innovation

Livestock Gentec Conference

Delta Edmonton South, Edmonton, Alberta October 13th & 14th, 2015

Mitch Abrahamsen mugshotDr. Mitch Abrahamsen, Vice President, R&D, Cobb-Vantress Inc

The Need for Innovation in Poultry Genetics

Over the past few years, the dramatic increase in feed prices has had a significant impact on the cost of production in the broiler industry. This has led companies to   explore alternative, cost-effective feed formulations that challenge the ability of broilers to perform as efficiently as in the past.

In addition, consumers are expressing a significant interest in how their food is produced. This has manifested itself in changes in government regulations, the redefining the role of antibiotics and other health management tools, and the need to quantify and address the environmental impact of food animal productions.

This “changing world” has challenged genetics companies to develop products that are profitable for the industry, perform in the face of increasing environmental stresses, and are socially acceptable. This need to refocus breeding programs to address new performance traits (or old traits in a new environment) requires the broiler industry to adapt and implement new technologies to improve product performance to ensure that the world's future food security needs are provided by chicken meat.

Morgan Chattaway bioMr. Chattaway

Mike Coffey mugshotMike Coffey, Professor, Scotland’s Rural College

Pulling Value Through the Beef Chain: The British experience

As is often the case in Canada, the beef industry in the UK has difficulty transmitting the market and pricing signals needed to identify the products and attributes most valued by consumers. Workingwith the British Limousin Cattle Society and ABP Food Group, Dr. Coffey helped develop a value chain the success of which rested in part on its ability to pass these market signals (including those related to carcass value and tenderness) from consumers back to the packers, feeders and breeders. This presentation discusses what brought this about, how it was done, what it accomplished … and if it is relevant to the Canadian market.

Ellen Crane mugshotEllen Crane, Cattlemen’s Young Leader, Dalhousie University

Indirect Assessments of Feed Efficiency in Replacement Beef Heifers

The direct assessment of feed efficiency (residual feed intake; RFI; kg d-1) is not practical or cost-effective for commercial herds. However, the indirect assessment of RFI through biological indicators constitutes an avenue to optimize the phenotyping for feed efficiency. Analysis of diverse systems including post-absorptive metabolism are potential sources of novel phenotypes. Our objective was to verify the association between complete blood cell count (CBC) parameters and select blood plasma metabolites with feed efficiency in replacement beef heifers. To do this, 107 crossbred heifers were placed on a feed trial at the Maritime Beef Test Station for 112 days on a 100% forage-based diet. Blood samples taken during the trial showed ties between the blood measures and feed efficient phenotypes that have potential use as biomarkers with further validation.

Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell mugshotJeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell

J. HansenJames R. Hansen, Identigen   

Traceability Equals Transparency: A look beyond bookend traceability to full scientific Tamper-Proof traceability using Biometric Identifiers.

Pilot projects are used to evaluate, examine and demonstrate—with the ultimate objective “What is the Cost Return?” Is it accurate, tamper-proof, humane? What training is required? Can the data be easily and rapidly transmitted, stored and retrieved? Does the collected data assist and improve strategic decision making?

This presentation will highlight a findings from a couple of pilot projects using biometric identifiers with the emphasis on Identigen’s commercial ranch multi sire parentage verification project.

Elizabeth Homerosky mugshot copyDr. Elizabeth Homerosky . DVM, Simpson Ranch Fellow in Beef Cattle Health; MSc Student, UCVM, Calgary

Vigour and Colostrum Consumption of the Newborn Beef Calf

Vigour is essential in newborn beef calves as it helps to ensure the timely and adequate colostrum consumption required for successful transfer of passive immunity and long-term health. For this study, data were collected from 77 assisted and unassisted calves born on a large commercial cow-calf operation near Calgary to better establish the impacts of calving difficulty on the vigour of the newborn beef calves. Clinical signs predictive of a newborn calf’s ability to consume colostrum unassisted in a timely manner will be presented.

Kathy Larson mugshotKathy Larson, Economist, Western Beef Development Centre

The A to Z of Cost-of-Production

Nearly every producer has heard of cost of production (COP), but few have gone through the process of calculating it. Learn why it’s important to calculate COP for your own operation, the numbers you need to track and the tools available to crunch your numbers and generate a break-even for the different parts of your operation. Ms. Larson will share COP survey findings from Alberta to Kansas to give you a sense of the average costs for cow-calf production and to demonstrate the variability that exists between operations.

Jeff Millang mugshotMr. Jeff Millang , Director, Livestock and Farm Business Branch
Livestock Research and Extension Division
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Making Sense in a Complex World

Managing a beef herd requires many skills. In today’s information age, where communication is a constant bombardment and science and technology advance so quickly, how do you make sense of it all and make good choices?

By setting longer-term strategic goals, using resources you have at hand today and using the information available to make educated assumptions about the future, you can make the best choices to achieve your goals. There is no silver bullet or one right way to succeed. Tools and information you can use in your journey to success include various market opportunities, business models and production choices. Mr. Millang’s presentation will suggest approaches that may help cattle owners evaluate these choices and navigate towards their desired outcomes.

Andrew Powell mugshot copyDr. Andrew Powell, Director, Centre for Risk Communication, Asia

Communications as a Tactic of Risk Management

In business, it is often thought that a great idea will endure as a result of its own merit but not everyone thinks that innovation is great. Innovation means change… and change often makes people (some of whom are your customers) uncomfortable. One need only look at the current controversy surrounding topics as varied as vaccines to enhancements in food production (i.e., Golden Rice).

It is also an error to assume that awareness of facts equates to acceptance. Facts can comprise as little as 5 percent when the degree of risk is evaluated. This may be irrational but it does follow certain heuristic patterns of decision-making. Understanding these patterns can help you use communications as a means of risk mitigation.

Industry approaches include conducting research not only on products and markets but also on the minds of their consumers. Monsanto, among others, are now employing sociologists to help in their communication planning. Mr. Powell will discuss how the livestock sector might benefit as a result from the experience of others.

Thiessen mugshot clint eastwoodStuart Thiessen

Van Groningen mugshotCory Van Groningen, Owner, VG Meats, President, Ontario Independent Meat Processors Association

Traceability, Niche Markets & Value Chain Integration

Mr. Van Groningen has been in the meat business all his life. He will share some of the reasons the family decided to expand into beef production and begin working with approximately 40 Ontario farmers. Traceability that leads to a high-integrity product has been key to growth in this operation and a passion of the Van Groningen's.

WICKHAMDr. Brian Wickham  Managing Director, ConsultWickham

Genetic Improvement in Beef Cattle: What is possible?

Until very recently, genetic improvement in beef cattle was limited almost exclusively to purebred cattle and—given the varying degrees of heritability, lack of focused breeding objectives, and intergenerational time-span progress—has occurred very slowly in the commercial cow/calf sector.

As our understanding of animal genetics and the corresponding increase in computing power available to tackle these is issues has increased, and the cost of these technologies has fallen, much more rapid improvements are possible. We are now in a situation where the application to commercial herds is expanding, and many producers are looking for information on cost, risk, as well as if, when, and how they should get involved.

D. Wickham is currently helping to develop a strategy to enable the Canadian beef industry to capture the benefits of genetic improvement. He will outline the strategy that he believes is appropriate for Canada and discuss some of the challenges and benefits he has seen first-hand from his Irish experience. 

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