Research is one of the most important aspects of the animal science department. The long-term vision for research is focused on five areas:

I. Nutrition / Nutritional Biochemistry (related to any animal species)
Research in nutrition and nutritional biochemistry draws from fundamental sciences to address basic problems in animal nutrition and often has far-reaching implications. Advances in animal nutrition depend on this research as we acquire a better understanding of nutrient and non-nutrient digestion and metabolism by animals.

II. Monogastric Production Systems
The monogastric, also known as simple-stomached, animal types most commonly used in Canada for food production include layer and broiler chickens and swine. Research on monogastric production systems explores methods of achieving one or more of the following: optimization of performance, reduction in input costs, improvement in environmental impacts, improvement in animal well-being and health, and altered animal product composition and quality.

III. Ruminant Production Systems
Ruminant animals are adapted to use low-quality feedstuffs as energy and nitrogen sources in the production of nutrient-dense human foods. The major ruminant species used for meat and milk production in Canada are beef and dairy cattle. Sheep, bison, and elk are being farmed in Manitoba for meat production, and sheep and goat dairy farms are supplying niche markets with dairy products. Research on ruminant production systems will be focused on beef and dairy cattle and will have similar objectives to those noted above for monogastric production systems.

IV. Environmental impacts of Livestock and Modelling Systems
The Sustainable Agriculture Modelling Group's aim is to develop a whole farm based model that will optimize resource use by linking animal-based models with manure, soil, and plant-based models. A collaboration exists between scientists in Manitoba, the rest of Canada, the United States, South America, and Europe. Some of the group's activities include:

  • Nutrient management planning for nursery, grower-finisher pig, and sow operations using existing and new feed consumption models and manure analysis.
  • Nutrition model development for laying hens.
  • Modelling rumen function in non-steady state.
  • Development of models to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.
  • Nutrient transformations and greenhous gas emissions from stored manure.
  • Initialization of a long-term experiment looking into multi-functionality of grasslands and overwintering of cattle.acquire

    V. Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Immunology of Livestock and Poultry
    Research within the department in these areas includes:
  • Establishment of a large animal biosecurity laboratory to provide biosecure animal housing so interactions between pathogenic microorganisms and dietary components can be studied in cattle and pigs.
  • Metagenomics of rumen organisms.
  • Biochemistry and ecology of rumen and other gut microorganisms.
  • Inhibition of methane production in ruminants.
  • On-farm food safety.
  • Immunocompetence and disease resistance in poultry.
  • Strategies for control of immunosuppressive diseases in poultry.
  • Efficiency of DNA vaccines.

These are our current strengths and they are integral to our vision for the department in the next 10 years. These focus areas will be supported by the department's initiative in the area of agro-ecological studies on livestock production systems (supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, CFI, through The National Centre for Livestock and the Environment). An improved understanding of the role of individual feeds or feed combinations in digestion, gut health, and gut microbial populations, for example, is essential to improved nutrient utilization by the animal, to control odour emissions from barns, and to identify new opportunities for the use of locally grown feed ingredients. Research related to animal behaviour and welfare can influence housing design and manure management which has direct relevance to nutrient movement and form and to pathogen loads on manure amended lands, ground, and surface water. The three focus areas also support the university's Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. The use of functional feeds as an alternative to antibiotics in animal diets, to enhance animal performance, and to improve animal product quality and value are some examples of opportunities for collaborative efforts. An increased understanding of active constituents in nutraceutical products will lead to new opportunities in animal production systems.

General Research Information
Beef, Dairy, and Forage Research
Swine Research

Recent/Current Research Activities
La Broquerie Research Project - Collaborative project with Hytek Ltd at La Broquerie, Manitoba, to improve environmental sustainability and productivity of grassland pasture management
National Centre for Livestock and the Environment
Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals

Research Goals of the Department
1. To strengthen linkages at local, provincial, and national levels to ensure we are involved in setting research goals in Canada.
2. To foster innovation in basic and applied research through acquisition of long-term funding.
3. To optimize the use of our available resources for research.
4. To build research capacity in existing and emerging areas of provincial, national, and international importance to the animal industry.