New funding to increase feed efficiency and reduce methane emissions in Canada's dairy industry

$10.3 million for an Alberta - Ontario-led research team

CALGARY, July 22, 2015 /CNW/ - The Canadian dairy industry adds more than $16 billion to Canadian GDP each year with Alberta contributing a significant amount to that total. As international demand for dairy products grows in the coming years, due to growing middle classes in emerging economies and a general global population increase, demand for high-quality milk proteins from Canada is also going to increase.

A project led by Genome Alberta and the Ontario Genomics Institute will help industry growth by using genomics-based approaches to select for dairy cattle with the genetic traits needed for more efficient feed conversion and lower methane emissions.

To date, it has been both difficult and expensive to collect the data required for such selection. The research team led by Dr. Filippo Miglior of the University of Guelph and Dr. Paul Stothard from Livestock Gentec at the University of Alberta want to change that by using the latest genomic approaches and the award-winning phenotyping platform developed by Growsafe, to collect and assess the required data to carry out the selection.

The results of this $10 million project will assist dairy farmers and the dairy industry to breed cattle that will carry these two important traits. Farmers will save money (as feed is the single largest expense in milk production), while the international competitiveness of Canada's dairy industry will increase. The environmental footprint of the dairy industry will also be reduced, in part due to lower methane emissions, but also because more feed efficient animals produce less manure waste. Broad application of the project's findings will be enhanced by the involvement of several industry organizations and international research partners in the project, not only benefiting Canada's dairy industry, but also contributing to global food security and sustainability.

Genome Alberta's Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Gijs van Rooijen said the research team was successful in its application because "of the strong connection between the industry needs and the academic capacity underpinned by excellent science at a national and international level".

The 2014 LSARP project "Increasing feed efficiency and reducing methane emissions through genomics: A promising goal for the Canadian dairy industry" is led by Genome Alberta and the Ontario Genomics Institute.


The funding story behind this project shows what can be done when researchers, organizations, companies, and universities pool their resources.

The $10.3 million funding package is made possible with approx. $3.9 million through the Genome Canada Large Scale Applied Research Project competition, and the balance from a diverse collection of funders:

  • Genome Alberta
  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency
  • Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation
  • Canadian Dairy Network
  • GrowSafe, Alberta
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • Australia Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport, and Resources
  • Scottish Rural College, UK
  • Qualitas, Switzerland

About the Large Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) competition

The call for applications for the 2014 LSARP came out in June of 2014 and was directed at projects that fit the competition guidelines of 'feeding the future'. The focus was on the application of genomics in the agri-food and fisheries/aquaculture sectors to address challenges and opportunities related to global food safety, security and sustainable production, and that contributed to the Canadian bioeconomy and well-being of Canadians.

Genome Canada, in partnership with the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), has now announced the 11 successful projects resulting from that competition. These projects represent a total investment of $93 million: $30.8 million of federal funding through Genome Canada; $5 million from WGRF towards three of the projects; and, the balance from project co-funders.

About Genome Alberta

In partnership with Genome Canada, Industry Canada, and the Province of Alberta, Genome Alberta was established in 2005 to focus on genomics as one of the central components of the Life Sciences Initiative in Alberta, and to help position genomics as a core research effort. 

We are a publicly funded not-for-profit corporation that initiates, funds, and manages genomics research and partnerships. 
Genome Alberta strives to be the leading source of information and administration related to genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and bioethics research in Alberta. We are dedicated to informing students, researchers, research organizations, our partners, and the public regarding opportunities and challenges in genomics and proteomics, and in encouraging the development of a strong life sciences research industry in Alberta. 

Genome Alberta is based in Calgary, Alberta but leads projects around the province and participates in a variety of other projects based across the country. 

SOURCE Genome Alberta

For further information: or to arrange an interview to talk about the significance of this new research contact: Mike Spear, Director of Communications, Genome Alberta,, Cell: 403-813-5843; Be sure to follow @GenomeAlberta on Twitter to learn more about new developments in genomics and genetics or visit us on the web at


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