Beef at Guelph will make it easier, faster to access research results
By Lilian Schaer for Livestock Research Innovation Corporation
Getting research results into the hands of producers and others in the industry who can use them is a leading goal of any research program.
A new initiative by the University of Guelph and supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is designed to make it easier for the beef industry to do just that. Beef at Guelph was unveiled at the 2022 virtual Beef Symposium and hopes to mirror the success of the Dairy at Guelph and Soils at Guelph programs.
“We want to get research results into the hands of producers in a medium they can use so that the information is more accessible,” says Dr. Jessica Gordon, a veterinarian and assistant professor at the Ontario Veterinary College. “Beef at Guelph will also connect everyone on campus involved in beef research, which will put us in a better position to access more funding and collaboratively work towards the same goals.”
Gordon has been working with Dr. Katie Wood, associate professor in Guelph’s Department of Animal Biosciences, and OMAFRA beef cattle specialist Megan Van Schaik on the project.
According to Wood, research results from Guelph are being released in the form of published journal articles or reports to funding agencies, but the industry has lacked a single, centralized spot where all the information is available in an easy to use way.
The team has launched the Beef at Guelph website, beefguelph.ca, which will serve as the hub for information about beef research activities.
“Although we report on our research results to a variety of different funding bodies, it’s not always easy for a farmer to find out about the projects that are happening right here in Ontario. Now they’ll be able to come to this new site,” Wood says. “It will also help with promotion and recognition of our talented researchers to have all this information available under the Beef at Guelph brand.”
In addition to featuring Ontario beef research, the goal is also to help to bring together research from other parts of Canada with information about how those results can be interpreted or adapted for production systems common to Eastern Canada, including for producers with smaller herd sizes. Highlights of the most relevant material will be shared through Beef at Guelph’s newsletter.
“This is where we will frame things in an Ontario perspective by taking resources that are out there already and interpreting what’s important and how to adapt to Ontario environment,” Gordon says. “We want to remove those barriers and make research done elsewhere applicable to Ontario.”
The project first got off the ground just before the start of the pandemic, but it wasn’t until last summer that work resumed in earnest as the new Ontario Beef Research Centre at the University of Guelph’s Elora site was nearing completion.
“We want to increase the profile of beef research at the University of Guelph, and that includes making sure that producers can use the work that we are doing and that there’s greater connectivity between researchers and the industry,” says Wood. “We have a beautiful new world-class barn to help showcase the work we are doing as well, so the timing is right for this.”
Gordon, Wood and Van Schaik have worked collaboratively with others in the beef industry, including Beef Farmers of Ontario and the Beef Cattle Research Council, to ensure Beef at Guelph complements instead of duplicating existing outreach efforts.
An advisory board will be set up with industry representation.
Gordon and Wood encourage producers to sign up for Beef at Guelph’s newsletter and provide feedback on the type of information and delivery options, from e-news and media articles to Twitter and presentation, they most prefer.
“Producer dollars fund a lot of research, so it’s really important to have awareness on both sides,” Wood says.
This article was originally published in the February 2022 issue of Ontario Beef.