Genome Alberta

Livestock News & Views

July 18, 2014 2:01 PM

Science provides clues to origins and evolution of zoonotics

Zoonotic diseases have been infecting people for a long time.

European researchers recently found the genome of a brucellosis-causing bacterium in a 700-year-old human skeleton in Italy, Science World Report notes. Brucellosis infects several livestock species and humans can contract it through unpasteurized dairy products or direct contact with sick animals.

Brucellosis isn’t the only disease that’s made the leap from beast to man. In fact, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s website notes that 61 per cent of human pathogens are zoonotic. And of the 175 recently emerged notable human pathogens, 75 per cent are zoonotic.

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July 18, 2014 2:01 PM
Science provides clues to origins and evolution of zoonotics

Zoonotic diseases have been infecting people for a long time.

European researchers recently found the genome of a brucellosis-causing bacterium in a 700-year-old human skeleton in Italy, Science World Report notes. Brucellosis infects several livestock species and humans can contract it through unpasteurized dairy products or direct contact with sick animals.

Brucellosis isn’t the only disease that’s made the leap from beast to man. In fact, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s website notes that 61 per cent of human pathogens are zoonotic. And of the 175 recently emerged notable human pathogens, 75 per cent are zoonotic.

July 11, 2014 3:43 PM
Researchers sequence sheep genome

The sheep industry is no stranger to genomics.

Scientists recently weaved together the sheep genome, an accomplishment that should speed the discovery of important production traits.

DNA includes four different bases, labelled A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s.

“The order determines whether it’s bacteria or a strawberry or a pine tree or a human or a sheep,” Noelle Cockett, provost and executive vice president of Utah State University told the Cache Valley Daily. Cockett verified the research findings and secured funding for the project.

July 4, 2014 2:12 PM
When it comes to animal welfare, pork producers stuck between rock and hard place
Many livestock producers find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place these days.

Take pork production. These days pork producers are trying to balance the need to produce pork efficiently enough to feed a booming population with concerns around the well-being of those pigs. Cutting mortality, and keeping animals housed, fed, watered, and free from injury and disease isn’t enough anymore for consumers or the corporations that buy pork from producers.

June 27, 2014 2:45 PM
Geneticists breed ‘no pluck’ bald chickens to beat climate change
Filed Under: Pam Baker | 0 Comments

Farmers have bred chickens to grow bigger and faster in order to feed the growing number of hungry humans. But along with that extra weight comes a tendency for the chickens to overheat. If a chicken gets too hot, it dies. That’s not a problem at the moment because farmers can keep the coops cooled but what happens when climate change makes it harder to cool poultry indoors or to raise them free-range outdoors?

Geneticists are working to solve the problem of over-heating fowls. And what they came up with is a smooth-skinned, totally featherless, bald chicken. Not only does that help cool the chicken but it makes it one step easier to throw the bird in the pot since it doesn’t need to be plucked.

If you want to see what bald chickens look like, watch this short video:

“My concern is feeding nine billion people in 2050,” said geneticist Carl Schmidt, who leads a team at the University of Delaware, in an interview with Modern Farmer. “That’s going to be a challenge. And it’s going to be made worse if the climate does continue to change.” 


June 20, 2014 11:04 AM
Objectivity, advocacy, and ethics in journalism

Should farm journalists be objective in their reporting? Or should we take sides?

These were a few of the questions I discussed with the ag community through the Farmers of Canada (@FarmersOfCanada) Twitter account this week. Created and administered by dairy producer Meaghan Thornhil (@ModernMilkMaid), the account gives farmers and others in the industry a chance to talk about their work, a week at a time.  

My colleagues and I have been chewing over these issues for a while, as journalists before us have done. But why not find out what producers and the rest of the agriculture industry think as well?