Ernie Hardeman (third from left), Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, tours the newly opened Ontario Beef Research Centre with (l-r) Lorne Hepworth, chair of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario; Joe Hill, Beef Farmers of Ontario president; and Bev Livingston, facility research manager.

The most sophisticated sustainable livestock production research centre in Canada officially opened today. At the Ontario Beef Research Centre, University of Guelph researchers will hone the latest technologies in health, welfare and production to benefit the province’s 6,800 beef farms and others across Canada.

“The University of Guelph is committed to working with government and industry partners to advance the competitiveness, resilience and sustainability of Ontario’s beef sector through world-class research and innovation,” said Malcolm Campbell, U of G’s vice-president (research).

“This state-of-the-art facility will open new frontiers for agricultural research and elevate livestock farming to even greater heights.”

The creation of the $15.5-million centre involved U of G, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) and the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO). Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) also provided a contribution in support of research in the new facility.

An opening ceremony today was attended by Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, and U of G and industry officials.

“Our government is investing in beef research to help discover the latest technologies and information and share them with farmers, so they can adopt new practices to stay competitive,” said Hardeman. “When Ontario farmers adopt the latest science-based practices, they become more profitable, efficient and sustainable.”

Lorne Hepworth, ARIO chair, added: “We are proud to work with partners to modernize livestock research infrastructure in Elora to enhance the competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability of Ontario’s agricultural and food sectors and rural communities.”

VP Research Malcolm Campbell

U of G will operate the facility under its partnership with OMAFRA. The new centre supports research in animal reproduction, nutrition and welfare, and meat quality and safety, leading to improved animal and production practices.

It includes two 5,530-square-metre research barns housing leading-edge facilities for animal care and welfare studies, as well as for cow-calf, nutrition, genetics, forage and feedlot research. It will house around 750 cattle, which doubles its current livestock capacity. Feed will be produced on 200 acres around the centre. Training and education will address the needs of the beef industry in Ontario and Canada.

The new facility will complement the adjacent Ontario Dairy Research Centre that opened in 2015 and the soon-to-be constructed Ontario Swine Research Centre at the Elora Research Station.