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Author: Owen Roberts

Flow chart created for cutting antibiotic use in dairy calves

All livestock producers have been urged to cut unnecessary antibiotic use, to try to prevent resistant bacteria from developing in their herds and flocks. And thanks to research at the University of Guelph, methodic management — particularly oral electrolyte replacement and water — can be the (even better) alternative. The research team created a flow chart or algorithm to help guide dairy producers’ decisions about treating diarrhea in their calves with antibiotics — one of the first research teams to do so. Read the whole story...

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This mental health advocate gets the picture

Farmers’ mental health is rarely discussed, let alone connected to works of art. But that’s the approach University of Guelph veterinary medicine professor Andria Jones-Bitton took as part of an innovative research and art seminar at the University’s print collection. She equated the loneliness of the farm-themed engraving here with farmers’ inherent isolation, which can lead to depression and other mental health woes. Originally posted November 29, 2017 on See the whole story...

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Celebrating Canada’s 150 birthday by beating a tough plant disease

Winter wheat’s complex genome is a challenge to researchers. But thanks to evolving technology, they’re understanding it better all the time. And now, they’re working with genes that offer the most natural resistance to head blight, one of wheat’s worst diseases. Throughout 2017 they coordinated research plots with 450 unique historic and modern winter wheat samples, from over 120 years of collecting, to look for traits, including the response to head blight. They called it their unique nod to Canada’s sesquicentennial. Originally published November 2, 2017 on See the whole story here....

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Livestock disease winging its way north as climate warms

Urban areas encroachment on wildlife and farms means wild and domestic species are getting closer in proximity all the time. Ontario deer, sheep and cattle are now at risk for an infectious virus, from a specific species of midge that’s found a new home in Eastern Canada. Researchers believe climate change has altered the midges’ windborne movement from the southern U.S. into Ontario, and warmer winters increase their chance to survive. So, now the midge (specifically the specie C. sonorensis) has been found biting and transmitting sometimes fatal diseases such as epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and bluetongue to livestock...

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New technology to reduce antimicrobial use in pigs

Antibiotic use in agriculture is necessary, sometimes – but as in human medicine, it’s overused, and resulting in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. University of Guelph research and Canadian biotechnology have developed a cost-effective technology that can cut down antibiotic use, a theme you’ll increasingly see in the sector. The technology, called Nuvio, can be added to piglets’ drinking water within the first 14 days of life to reduce diarrhea, improve weight gain and feed conversion. That ultimately makes them stronger – without antibiotics — and better able to fight off disease later in life. Read the whole story...

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Urban Cowboy

Raising awareness and promoting dialogue about current food and agriculture issues.


Owen Roberts – journalist, columnist, educator – provides an urban perspective on agri-food issues.

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