New genomics service lab planned for livestock sector

Edmonton will be home to a new service laboratory to provide genomics technologies to livestock breeders and producers across the country.

The federal government on Wednesday announced $3.539 million in Western Economic Diversification funding toward equipment and operating costs for the new facility, a spinoff of the University of Alberta’s Livestock Gentec research centre.

Genomics technologies allow producers to identify livestock with the most sought-after traits, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Travis Toews said in a separate CCA release Wednesday.

“Continued development and adoption of genomics technologies will be important to the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian cattle industry,” said Toews, a producer at Beaverlodge, Alta.

“The use of genomics can create significant benefits for livestock production, such as enabling producers to choose the best feed regime for their cattle and breeding healthier, hardier stock,” the government said in its release.

The new facility is expected to commercialize new technologies on top of its work providing genomics services to livestock producers.

The federal funding pledge “will help move the results from industry’s previous research investments out of the lab and see them evolve into management tools that can be used by industry,” the CCA said.

The livestock sector can expect to see “cost-effective proven technologies” developed through use of the new facility, Livestock Gentec CEO Stephen Moore said in the government’s release.

The CCA noted it has previously invested producer checkoff funds through its Beef Cattle Research Council to back various research projects led by Livestock Gentec’s university research partners in Alberta and at Guelph, Ont.

“Beginning with the initial work to sequence the bovine genome, BCRC-funded research projects have identified a number of important gene markers that are associated with economically important traits such as feed efficiency and beef tenderness,” the CCA said.

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