AgBio students have a unique advantage in their studies with easy access to dairy, poultry, sheep, fish and metabolic teaching facilities located on-campus close to the state of the art Agriculture Building.
The department has extensive and high quality applied and basic research programs covering a wide range of topics in animal science and related areas, and maintains an excellent relationship with industry.
RESEARCH BY DISCIPLINE
Animal behaviour and welfare studied at the University of Saskatchewan Department of Animal and Poultry Science focuses on poultry (laying hens, turkeys and broilers primarily), and often includes gaining and understanding of welfare and production. Recent research conducted includes the welfare and production impacts of lighting duration and intensity on broilers, the effects of beak treatment, and toe trimming impacts on turkeys. Current research is focusing on assessing the impacts of beak treatment on hens, stocking density on commercial turkeys, beak treatment of commercial turkeys, nutrition impacts on behaviour, on-farm euthanasia of broilers, and light duration on feeding behaviour of broilers.
Feed processing research is conducted primarily at the Canadian Feed Research Centre (CFRC), located in North Battleford. This state of the art facility offers processing capacity at all scales ranging from lab (100 kg batches) to industrial (20 T/hour) including state of the art in-line NIRS monitoring of ingredients and product quality. The primary objective of the research is to achieve maximum animal performance and feed efficiency through the application and control of processing technologies. Research also includes the modification of ingredients through steam treatments and sorting technology to improve nutritional value or remove toxic factors such as fusarium. The CFRC also provides support to the commercial industry through fee for service contracts. It also provides hands on commercially relevant experiences in feed processing for students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Molecular genetics covers numerous areas, from researching a single gene for the underlying cause of a disorder or colour of coat to allow genetic selection of breeding stock, to marker-assisted management, epigenetics, nutrigenetics and genomics. Research is very applied, focusing on improving health, welfare, production and carcass traits to provide an economic advantage to the respective industries.
The current focus of the monogastric nutrition program is applied swine nutrition. The overall objective of the program is improving the economic, environmental and societal sustainability of the swine industry through the development of feeding programs and ingredients which improve the growth, health and welfare of pigs at all stages of production. Examples of recent projects include: The calcium and phosphorus requirements of group housed sows in gestation; effect of photoperiod on the feeding behavior of the newly weaned pig and the use of lecithin as an emulsifier in the diet of growing pigs.
Ruminant nutrition spans several areas, including regulation of nutrient digestion and post-absorptive metabolism, gastrointestinal physiology, nutrient-gene interactions, feed processing and the utilization of alternative feeds in ruminant diets, forage utilization, and feeding management. World-class research infrastructure and well-equipped analytical laboratories support our research programs, which focus on dairy and beef cattle, the most important ruminant species that are reared for milk and meat production in Canada. Issues that are of importance to the dairy and beef cattle industries are addressed in our research programs, with emphasis on production efficiency and environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, food safety and quality, and animal health.
Physiology and Toxicology research covers a broad range of animal systems, species and applications. Research is highly multidisciplinary with current focus in endocrinology and reproduction, systems biology, gastrointestinal physiology and microbiology, environmental and nutritional toxicology. Fundamental, basic science research forms the basis to develop applied collaborative research partnerships with the private sector and government with the goal of providing solutions for current issues in animal health and production. Experimental approaches include studies with whole animals, cell culture (in vitro) methods, protein chemistry, electrophysiology, and cell and molecular biology.
Research at the Wildlife-Human Interface seeks to understand the relationships between people and wildlife using a mix of biological and social sciences. This research is very much applied in focus, aiming to mitigate complex problems such as crop damage, depredation on livestock, transmission of zoonotic disease, and collisions with vehicles on roads and highways. Further, this work also aims to better understand the benefits of wildlife as indicators of ecosystem health and as food for urban, rural, and aboriginal communities.
The Department of Animal and Poultry Science is well-recognized nationally and internationally as a research-intensive department that offers advanced training in MSc and PhD degree programs. The department’s highly-trained and enthusiastic faculty members and adjunct professors have extensive, high-quality applied and basic research programs that cover a wide range of topics in animal science and related areas, including: sustainable management systems; genetics, molecular genetics and genetic resources; nutrition and metabolism, functional foods, feed ingredient development and evaluation; grazing and forage systems; feed processing; digestive, growth, and lactation physiology; gastrointestinal microbiology, pre- and probiotics, and animal health; aboriginal wildlife, land and resource management, human-wildlife conflict; animal behaviour and welfare; and aquatic toxicology in northern ecosystems.
The department’s faculty members attract approximately $7 million per year in research funding from a wide variety of sources, including NSERC, provincial governments, private industry, and crop and livestock commodity groups. The department’s research programs in the areas outlined above encompass both fundamental and applied aspects, so it has impacts on both the advancement of scientific knowledge and practical livestock production. The Department of Animal and Poultry Science has particularly strong linkages with various sectors involved in livestock production, including the feed industry, livestock producer groups, and crop commodity groups. These strong linkages are an important component of our technology transfer efforts, as we strongly believe that the research that we conduct has to benefit livestock producers and society in general.
The Department of Animal and Poultry Science has excellent animal and feed research facilities that support its teaching, research and outreach programs. These facilities include dairy, beef, poultry, sheep, fish, and animal metabolism units that are located on-campus, thus allowing easy access by faculty members and graduate students. Also, the Department is undergoing a major infrastructural renewal cycle that includes a new dairy facility on-campus (the Rayner Dairy Teaching and Research Facility), the new Canadian Feed Research Centre, and a planned new beef teaching and research station.