University of Calgary

Veterinary medicine has strong presence at dairy conference

UToday HomeApril 4, 2012

Six graduate students from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine presented research at this year’s Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (WCDS) in Red Deer last month, part of the faculty’s strong presence at the conference.

WCDS—a forum for dairy producers, dairy service and supply representatives as well as students to discuss recent advances in dairy production, research and technology—attracts more than 750 people, about 40 per cent of whom are dairy producers.

The WCDS spotlights research at universities and government research institutes across Canada. UCVM graduate students Laura Solano, Natalie Dow, Rienske Mortier, Guilherme Bond, Christina Ahlstrohm and Robert Wolf, along with their supervisors Drs. Herman Barkema, Ed Pajor, Frank van der Meer, Jeroen De Buck and Karin Orsel presented posters that represented a wide range of topics.

“The posters generated considerable interest from producers, industry representatives, and academics from other institutions and initiated lively discussions and interactions,” says Dr. Lorraine Doepel, a faculty member in the Production Animal Health (PAH) department, chair of the WCDS organizing committee and long-time committee member.

Also, for the first time this year, 32 first-year students attended the seminar as part of their curriculum. “It was a fantastic opportunity for the students to interact with producers, to become informed of some the issues facing the dairy industry, to acquire knowledge in the areas of dairy health and nutrition and to meet industry representatives,” says Doepel. ”Overall, it was an extremely positive learning opportunity for the students.”

Dr. Herman Barkema, head of the PAH department gave a presentation about the Alberta Johne’s Disease Initiative (AJDI), a voluntary program of Alberta Milk which is being coordinated by the faculty.

The overall objective of the AJDI is to ensure that the Alberta dairy industry is aware of Johne’s disease and that it implements best management practices to reduce the prevalence of the disease. Barkema also presented information on the incidence of Johne's disease and its link to Crohn's disease, which was perceived as a motivator for producers to participate in the program.

“It was excellent opportunity for students and faculty from UCVM to interact with producers and showcase the innovative and industry-relevant research that is taking place at the University of Calgary,” says Doepel.