GFM Network News


Numbers don’t lie — but can mislead if there’s not enough of them

When it comes to making decisions on the farm, the more data the better —
especially if that data comes from other farms

Did you know that there’s a direct correlation between the divorce rate in Maine and the per capita consumption of margarine in the States? It’s true. If you chart the data on a graph going back a decade or two, one line rises and falls with the other. That’s the problem with data like this […] Read more

Wheat breeder Curtis Pozniak is on a quest to figure out what makes wheat wheat.

Wheat breeders get a cheat sheet

‘Breeder chip’ doesn’t make the process faster but ups the odds of hitting pay dirt

Plant breeding is strictly a numbers game — but researchers have found a way to improve the odds with help from a new tool called a ‘breeder chip.’ “Breeding is like a lottery. The more tickets you buy, the greater the chance of success,” said Curtis Pozniak, a professor of plant sciences and wheat breeder […] Read more


Genome editing will not only revolutionize plant breeding, it will offer advances with wide public benefits such as making crops more resilient in the face of climate change, says Stacy Singer, a forage breeder and biotechnologist at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. Singer is shown here with sainfoin plants, a bloat-free type of alfalfa. Her colleague, Surya Acharya, bred a more hardy variety of the forage using conventional methods but the breeding process took many years.

The next frontier of plant breeding

Advocates say game-changing genome editing is completely different from genetic engineering — but will the public agree?

Farmers need to get in front of the messaging about genome editing technology — or risk seeing it suffer the same fate as GMOs in the court of public opinion. That’s the warning from the chair of Alberta Wheat’s research committee, who is one of many who fears genome editing is going to get lumped […] Read more

Canadian genetics are considered superior and allow for us to consider many paths as a global supplier of live cattle.

Single-trait selection can be too much of a good thing

Dairy and beef cattle are amazingly adaptive, 
but problems arise when we breed for just one trait

As I have travelled the world I have had the privilege of seeing many different breeds of cattle. They come in every colour and shape, from the stocky Belgium Blue to the sleek Zebu. Some cattle can be found on streets eating food waste; others are beasts of burden working fields and transporting goods; the […] Read more


Lon Carlson and Lorraine Beaudin have been testing for leptin for a decade at Carlson Cattle Company, a purebred Red Angus and Gelbvieh operation they operate with their four children. From left to right, Lon, Sidney, Conor, Alison, Kolten and Lorraine.

Does the ‘appetite gene’ make for better cattle?

A genetic mutation in cattle makes gains with a little help from its friends

Somewhat controversial in the early days of cattle genetic coding, leptin — a hormone that regulates appetite in animals and humans — is making a comeback among some cattle breeders. The difference this time is its common inclusion in a broad panel of beneficial genes tested in cattle, said Stephen Moore, a leading researcher in […] Read more

By binding a cognate antibody (a portion of which is shown in green) to a deer prion (salmon coloured) researchers were able to determine the three-dimensional structure of the prion protein.

Researchers take aim at chronic wasting disease

Finding out why prions misfold is key to finding a treatment for CWD and BSE

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) threatens populations of mule deer, whitetail deer, and elk throughout the Prairies, and scientists are working hard towards finding a solution Like bovine spongiform encephalopathy, CWD is caused by the misfolding of a mysterious class of proteins known as prions. While researchers are not clear on the function of prions in […] Read more


At Rocky Mountain Holsteins, farm manager Ron Churchill uses genomics to develop 
elite dairy breeding stock.

The perfect cow: Two different approaches to getting the best genetics

At CL Ranch, it’s all about breeding for observable traits, 
but genomics is the foundation for Rocky Mountain Holsteins

You won’t find a single Angus cow in Cherie Copithorne-Barnes’ herd. But then again, you won’t find any other specific breeds either. “One of the philosophies that we have here at CL Ranch is we’re not breed specific — we’re trait specific,” said Copithorne-Barnes, CEO of the 23,000-acre ranch near Calgary. “We are synthetic cross-breeders, […] Read more

Capturing value through livestock innovation

Livestock Gentec Conference being held Oct. 13-14 in Edmonton

Playing the Long Game: Capturing Value in Livestock Innovation is the theme of this year’s Livestock Gentec Conference. Presentations include a look at what’s possible in genetic improvement in commercial beef cattle and the U.K. experience in increasing value in the beef chain. There will also be a panel on sustainable beef production along with […] Read more


The time has come to rethink single-trait selection

Temple Grandin was right about animal welfare, and she’s right 
about respecting the dual purpose of food animals, too

I am a big fan of Dr. Temple Grandin. A long time ago we stood in a small community hall in Alberta with 60 farmers in attendance. She talked about an animal’s reaction to light, movement, and sound, and encouraged producers to see their facilities through the eyes of their livestock. I talked about shrinkage […] Read more

Trade mission to Kazakhstan

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is leading a trade mission to Kazakhstan with a focus on livestock and genetics. “Kazakhstan has identified its livestock sector as a priority” and wants to increase beef exports to Russia, said trade officer Aarij Bashir. The mission will include meetings with government officials and pre-qualified buyers of live cattle and […] Read more