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Livestock Production

Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production (TACLP)

The Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production (TACLP) uses its resources — which include a 1,000-head capacity feedlot, commercial cow/calf herd, Purebred Red Angus herd, sheep flock, and broadacre native and tame pasture — to demonstrate and optimize technologies with potential to improve animal health and welfare, increase production efficiency, and enhance environmental sustainability.

Livestock producers, innovators, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) collaborate with the TACLP to develop, validate, and showcase new practices and technologies — moving them towards industry acceptance and commercialization.

Livestock research services at the TACLP include: 

  • Assessing residual feed intake (RFI) for cattle and sheep.
  • Conducting research trials on beef cattle and sheep in pasture or feedlot settings at Olds College or client sites.
  • Developing, optimizing and validating innovative on-farm technologies and practices.
  • Organizing and delivering producer training sessions.

Highlights of Livestock Production Research:

Leveraging the funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the TACLP provides access to every stage of the production cycle — from seedstock to feedlot. 

Recent project highlights show the livestock research team’s dedication to the goals of animal welfare, efficiency and environmental sustainability. These collective efforts reflect the livestock research team's commitment to animal welfare, efficiency and environmental sustainability. The TACLP is also integrated into Olds College academics supporting knowledge transfer, in-field training and volunteer experiences for students.

  • Animal health and welfare studies included a pre-conditioning study in collaboration with the University of Calgary that looked at the impacts of various weaning techniques to better prepare calves for the feedlot. The goal was to reduce the necessity for preventative treatments when they arrive at the feedlot, reducing antimicrobial use overall.

    The TACLP also conducts off-campus projects and fee-for-service work with collaborating producers — specifically Neilson Cattle Development who has been working with the College since 2020 with a total of six projects completed at its operation. These projects include further research investigating the impact of handling acclimation to reduce stress and improve reproductive performance in beef heifers. Acclimated heifers had lower salivary cortisol concentration — meaning less fearful/stressful — and an increment on pregnancy rate of 10.84% when compared to the control group. 

    Another collaboration was a study investigating different calf weaning methods combined (or not) to an adoption of a novel handling procedure on newborn calves known as tactile stimulation. This technique mimics natural cow behavior by gently rubbing the body of newborn calves for one minute and has demonstrated notable health and growth performance advantages. The TACLP is currently in the third year of testing this procedure at Neilson Cattle Development. This ongoing research aims to further explore and validate the benefits associated with tactile stimulation for newborn beef calves.

  • Each year, the TACLP evaluates approximately 500 non-college animals during the feeding trial season through a variety of performance evaluations and research projects. These include ongoing residual feed intake testing via Vytelle feeding systems, basic growth and feed conversion tests, and behavioural assessments. 

    In its work with Neilson Cattle Development, the TACLP demonstrated by adopting handling acclimation, beef heifers had 7.5 times increased chances of becoming pregnant — pointing to improved efficiency in reproductive performance.

  • With additional funding from NSERC through the Applied Research and Technology Partnership (ARTP) grant, the TACLP is supporting numerous industry partners and SMEs by validating remote monitoring technologies with the potential to improve soil health and increase rancher access to carbon credit programs, thereby improving environmental sustainability and climate change resiliency in Western Canada. 

    Alberta Innovates funded a study looking at the benefits of rotational grazing management compared to conventional grazing. Smart technologies were employed to monitor pasture productivity, animal health and performance, and remotely manage fence lines and watering systems.

    The Floating Island Technology for Livestock Water Remediation project is a multi-year study that uses native wetland plants and floating island technology to treat feedlot runoff water, aiming to improve water quality for irrigation or livestock consumption.

Animal Identification using Artificial Intelligence

Using artificial intelligence for individual animal identification is a novel concept that Olds College is exploring with an industrial client.

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Enhancing Climate Change Resiliency & Environmental Sustainability of the Livestock Industry

The TACLP at Olds College is enhancing climate change resiliency and environmental sustainability of the livestock industry through the use of innovative technology and rotational grazing practices on the Smart Farm — specifically the 308 acres at Pitstra Farm west of Carstairs, AB  — over the next two years.

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Floating Island Technology for Livestock Water Remediation

This project evaluates the economic and environmental benefits of using native wetland plants and floating island technology to treat feedlot runoff water.

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Intercropping Corn for Livestock Grazing Strategies

The TACLP at Olds College is partnering with the University of Manitoba to identify the potential for intercropping corn with high protein forages.

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Nofence Collars: Virtual Fencing System

Researchers at the Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production (TACLP) at Olds College of Agriculture & Technology are evaluating the functionality of the Nofence© collar, an animal-friendly novel virtual fence technology that allows producers to remotely contain and control grazing cattle by using audio cues and electric stimuli from collars instead of physical fences. This could help farmers implement rotational grazing systems easier and more cost effectively.

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Sire Progeny

This project evaluates sire-progeny links, breeding plans and information management/record keeping in multi-sire breeding scenarios on commercial herds.

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Validation of Rapid In-Field Testing to Measure Forage Nitrate Concentration

Olds College is assessing and validating the accuracy of the NECi Nitrate Test Kit and the Cardy Nitrate meter for on-site measurement of nitrate concentrations in forages.

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Weaning Methods & Tactile Stimulation on Calf Performance, Health & Welfare

Researchers at the TACLP are studying and comparing differences in weight gain, health and reactivity at handling in imprinted against non-imprinted calves weaned through the use of either nose-flap, fenceline or traditional abrupt weaning.

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Technologies to Improve Sheep Production Efficiency: Measuring Feed Efficiency & Early Detection of Parasitic Infection

The TACLP is conducting a research project to identify and quantify a panel of predictive blood biomarkers for feed efficiency and sheep parasite infection using genomics and metabolomics technologies.

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Feed Efficiency: Explanation & Benefits to the Herd

In beef cattle production, feed costs constitute a substantial portion of expenses accounting for up to 70 per cent of the total operational costs.

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Exploring Nofence Collars: Livestock Research

Rotational grazing systems can help maximize soil health and pasture productivity, but are hard to implement due to labour shortages and infrastructure costs.

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Publication Articles

Team Members
Emilie Edgar headshot

Emilie Edgar

Research Technician

Désirée Gellatly headshot

Désirée Gellatly

Research Scientist

Brianna Gratton headshot

Brianna Gratton


Yaogeng Lei headshot

Yaogeng Lei

Research Associate

Alison Neale headshot

Alison Neale

Research Associate

Brittany Scott headshot

Brittany Scott

Research Technician

Lyndsey Smith headshot

Lyndsey Smith

Research Technician

Laio Sobrinho headshot

Laio Sobrinho

Research Associate

Sean Thompson headshot

Sean Thompson


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