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The Results Are In on Proof of Concept Projects

The following projects were funded under the BCRC’s Proof of Concept program. This program funds 12-month projects with a maximum budget of $50,000 and has two main purposes. One is to help the researchers (and BCRC) decide whether an unusual research idea is promising enough to develop into a larger, more defined project. The other purpose is to validate practices or technologies that have been discovered through research projects and/or to facilitate the adaptation of technologies utilized in other sectors, commodities or countries. In other words, finding out whether we can adapt someone else’s solution instead of reinventing the wheel for Canada’s beef industry.  

Proof of Concept projects are not designed to fully answer a big science question. They’re simply intended as a small investment to find out whether the idea is worth scaling up and pursuing further. These results are intended to be preliminary–if they’re promising, they’re good candidates for a full-fledged research trial. With these projects, even a complete “failure” is really a success, because it means we are able to cut our losses early.    

Charolais cattle in green grass

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off is collected each time a beef animal is marketed in Canada. Part of that check-off is used to fund research through the Beef Cattle Research Council. The BCRC funds a variety of research projects on animal health and welfare, forage and grasslands, feed, food safety, beef quality, environmental sustainability and more.

This is an ongoing series highlighting recent research results. Our entire catalog of research summaries can be found here.  

Can we develop a more effective pinkeye vaccine?

This preliminary trial found that delivering a vaccine like an eyedrop may be a safe and more effective way to protect beef calves against pinkeye.

Learn more about project POC.02.20.

pinkeye vaccine

Can water bowls be used for AMR surveillance?

water tank in feedlot

This preliminary study found that bacteria associated with BRD accumulate in feedlot water bowls. Water bowls may provide a simpler way to evaluate pen-level antimicrobial resistance in BRD pathogens.

Learn more about project POC.05.19.

Can intercropping be used to supplement protein in grazing corn?

This pilot trial found that seeding Italian ryegrass, hairy vetch, radish, clover (on their own or in mixes) between the rows of corn yielded protein levels that met or exceeded the NRC’s nutritional requirements for multiple classes of cattle. 

Learn more about project POC.08.18.

intercropping corn and high-protein forages for better beef cattle nutrition

Can we reduce water and sanitizer use in packing plants?

meat processing plant

This pilot study found that LED light and atmospheric cold plasma in an activated water mist are promising chemical-free alternatives to combat E. coli biofilms in packing plants. 

Learn more about project POC.09.19.

Can new technologies be used for chute-side disease diagnosis?

The DNA sequencing technology used in this preliminary trial was more sensitive, produced faster results and could detect both pathogens and antibiotic resistance better than traditional approaches. More development and refinement are needed before this test could be used chute-side.

Learn more about project POC.04.18.

working cattle in squeeze chute

Can a probiotic increase beef storage life?

eye of round steaks

In this preliminary trial, low levels of a potential probiotic preservative did not prolong the storage life of vacuum-packaged eye of round steaks.

Learn more about project POC.02.18.

Does boosting energy in late gestation improve colostrum?

A preliminary trial found that if nutritional requirements are already being met (based on National Research Council recommendations) additional energy supplementation in the weeks before calving does not have any added benefits to colostrum quantity or quality.

Learn more about project POC.23.21.

red cow and calf nursing on straw

Can pre- and probiotics help deal with BRD?

steer in a winter feedlot pen with steam

This preliminary trial showed that a probiotic given in the nose altered the microbiota of the respiratory tract and may benefit respiratory health. 

Learn more about project POC.06.18.

Can genomic tests help design better antibiotic use strategies?

This preliminary study developed a test to identify how susceptible Mycoplasma bovis is to nine different antibiotics commonly used in the feedlot. Further development would be needed to develop this into a chute-side diagnostic test.

Learn more about project POC.01.19.

cattle feedlot eating at bunk
Canadian grade AAA stamp

Are Canada’s quality grades comparable to Japanese beef grades?

Canadian carcasses that grade AAA and Prime are very similar to high Japanese grade beef (high JMGA 3 / low JMGA 4 and high JMGA 4 / low JMGA 5, respectively). This can help market Canadian beef in Japan.

Learn more about project POC.02.19.

Can we temp feedlot cattle faster?

The new infrared-based digital thermometer developed in this pilot study was faster but less accurate than the industry standard digital thermometer. This technology is promising but requires further refinement before it could be adopted commercially.

Learn more about project POC.15.20.

beef producer on horseback checking cattle in lot

Do salinity-tolerant alfalfa populations benefit from inoculants?

This preliminary study found that treating salt-tolerant alfalfa seed with a nitrogen-fixing inoculant improved its performance under saline conditions, but using a salt-tolerant inoculant didn’t. This suggests that nitrogen is a limiting nutrient under saline conditions. 

Learn more about project POC.08.20.

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