New Elora Beef Research Centre officially opened

Plans for leading beef research facility began in 2011

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The new Elora Beef Research Centre officially opened on Wednesday.

The state-of-the-art facility was accomplished through a partnership between Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) the provincial government, through the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario and the University of Guelph.

The centre measures out to 165,000 square feet, equal to about 3.8 acres of land.

Why it matters: The new Elora Beef Research Centre will give researchers modern facilities to look at everything from feed efficiency to reproduction to genomics.

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“It will give our farmers the latest research findings in technologies to help them become more efficient and to grow their business. When businesses grow and innovate, the sector and our economy grows with it,” says Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.

This opportunity provides the 6,800 beef producers of Ontario — a $3 billion industry — access to the latest technologies and findings on health, welfare and production of beef cattle.

The vision began almost eight years ago when Joe Hill, president of BFO, made a motion for the federation to begin putting money aside to allow them to some day build a new facility.

“A number of years ago it started as an idea. We have some aging research facilities that need to be replaced and that became a vision and it became a reality,” says Hill.

The new centre is focused on research related to animal welfare, reproduction, and nutrition, along with meat quality and safety.

“This centre will provide a training ground for the next generation of students and researchers and people that support our industry,” says Hill.

“Having these new facilities we can measure traits that before we could not measure and we can select more accurately docile cows and genetically more efficient and more sustainable,” says Angela Canovas, with the department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph in a promotional video for the new facility.

BFO’s $3 million in support and the Ontario government’s investment of $12.5 million allowed this infrastructure to be built in two years, as they broke ground in fall of 2017. The University of Guelph managed the construction of the project, will manage the facility into the future and its researchers will be the main users of the site.

While Ontario is already home to some of the highest-quality beef in the world, it’s important for the research aspect of the industry to remain up to date with the ever-changing innovations and sustainability of the progressive industry.

“When the old barns were built in the ‘70s, the questions that we were asking today weren’t even thought about and nearly 40 years from now we will be having the same discussions about what are the new questions that researchers answer,” says Hill in a promotional video for the new facility.

This facility will hold nearly double the current facility as the two barns will house 288 cow-calf pairs, being fed through state-of-the-art Insentec individual feed intake tracker feeders recording every feeding occurrence of the cattle.

The cattle will begin to move in following an open house at the end of September this year.

“Ontario beef industry is known for its innovation and dedication. Ontario beef producers are world renowned for their quality and have always been ranked among the best. This is because of our hard working beef farmers and BFO’s leadership and it’s because we invest in important research like these buildings here,” says Hardeman.

The beef research centre joins the leading dairy research facility opened in 2015 at the Elora Research Station. A new hog research facility was recently announced that will also be located at the Elora Research Station.

The barns equal 165,000 square feet and took two years to build.
photo: Jennifer Betzner

The beef research barns at the Elora Research Station will hold 288 cow-calf pairs and contain state of the art individual feeding tracker systems.
photo: Jennifer Betzner

About the author

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Jennifer lives on a farm in Cayuga, Ontario and has a lot of experience in the many aspects of agriculture.

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