Saskatchewan research center to focus on cattle production

Center will consist of facilities at two locations and is expected to be operational by 2018.

The University of Saskatchewan will move forward on a new $25 million Livestock & Forage Center of Excellence, thanks to funding from the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments, as well as the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Assn. and the university.

"We're building on our research strengths, absolutely, but we're going to catapult them to a whole other level," said Mary Buhr, dean of the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture & Bioresources, which is leading the project with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

The center will consist of facilities at two locations southeast of Saskatoon, Sask. The Beef Cattle Research & Teaching Unit will be located on about 1,760 acres near Clavet, Sask., while the Forage & Cow-calf Research & Teaching Unit will be located at the existing 2,367-acre university research farm near Floral, Sask. Components of the center are expected be in operation by 2018.

The Floral facility will accommodate a breeding herd of up to 500 cows and will also serve as an experimental station for forage crop production studies, including some innovative work on environmental stewardship. Since 700 acres of the site has never been used for intensive livestock handling, researchers will be able to look at conditions before and after cattle move on to the land.

Other research will focus on soil and water monitoring, range land management, pasturing work, reproduction, nutrition and metabolism research, cow/calf management and rearing, animal health and welfare as well as economic and policy work.

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WCVM associate dean for research Baljit Singh explained that the new center is very much a partnership among the university, industry and government, designed to create knowledge that producers can use.

The center "brings the industry right close to us — to work with our researchers to solve the problems that industry is facing," he said. "This will allow us to be more responsive to the needs of the industry in providing technologies to increase the competitiveness of Canadian agriculture sector."

The ministers of agriculture for Canada and Saskatchewan recently announced a joint commitment of $10 million to the center, and the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Assn. is contributing $1 million to the effort. The balance is being contributed by the university, including $7 million plus the required land. Further funds will come from industry partnerships, research grants and sponsorships.

The new facilities will offer a range of improvements and new features. These include two new chute systems, calving pens and monitoring areas, research laboratories and meeting rooms, all aimed at vastly improving research and teaching opportunities.

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