Olds College offers expertise, infrastructure to livestock production

It’s easy to overlook the resources post-secondary institutions provide outside of formal education, but facilities like Olds College’s Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production offer much more than a typical education track.

“The Technology Access Centre is a new initiative made possible by NSERC [the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada],” says manager Shannon Argent, “and what we have done is we have taken the applied research for livestock production at the college, put it all under one umbrella, and we’re offering our expertise, our infrastructure, on a fee-for-service for researchers, technology developers and livestock producers…”

If you’re a cattle producer, the Centre has a few different offerings you can access, including:

  • Residual feed intake testing – This is primarily geared towards seedstock producers, but with 40 percent heritability, Argent says commercial producers can benefit too, by selecting animals from operations who carry out the test.
  • Delta Genomics’ Envigour HX – This genetic test is targeted primarily to commercial livestock producers, predicting longevity, parentage and breed composition. Argent says that according to Delta Genomics’ predictions, producers can see a return of investment of around $160 per animal tested, per year, on longevity.
  • In-vitro fermentation testing – This is for anyone who thinks they may have come up with a valuable feed additive. “We’ve re-created a rumen in our laboratory and we can test the volatile fatty acids, the pH, how this feed additive will affect the rumen before it actually gets fed to cattle or sheep.”

But for those who aren’t quite ready to utilize resources such as Olds College’s TAC, Argent says that there are other ways to benefit from research:

“It’s watching agriculture publications, it’s looking at the websites, because they make all this research available for commercial cattle producers to be able to make the decisions on their own operations, for what’s best for them.”

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