University of Calgary expands diagnostic services for livestock industry

Animal Health: News Roundup from the September 28 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The University of Calgary’s faculty of veterinary medicine is piloting an expansion of its diagnostic service unit for enhanced animal disease diagnosis and welfare.

Since the provincial government ended comprehensive veterinary diagnostic services for livestock in 1995, private practitioners have picked up those services. That model has worked for companion animals and, to some extent, the equine industry, notes an article in Alberta Agriculture’s Agri-News. But it hasn’t been economically viable for livestock producers. This has led to a knowledge gap of endemic and emerging livestock diseases at the farm and provincial levels.

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“Alberta’s agriculture industry makes significant contributions to its economy,” notes Dr. Baljit Singh, dean of the University of Calgary’s faculty of veterinary medicine (UCVM). “Livestock producers need support for the management of their animals, especially in the area of disease surveillance and diagnostics.”

The provincial and federal governments are funding the project through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, with additional funding coming through Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. The Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Cattle Feeders are also supporting the project, notes Agri-News.

Singh says that while the university’s diagnostic service unit has been operating for more than a decade, its ability to serve Alberta’s livestock industry has been limited. “This project will increase capacity in disease diagnostics right here in Alberta for livestock producers.”

He says that the investment will allow UCVM to add one clinical microbiologist and one anatomic pathologist along with two technicians and one support staff to the existing team at the diagnostic service unit. UCVM will also purchase new clinical microbiology equipment. The grant also has a provision for on-farm disease investigation. Case materials submitted to the diagnostic service unit will be valuable for conducting research and training veterinary students on existing disease as well as emerging diseases.

The pilot expansion is expected to start in October 2020.

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