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(306) 373-9922

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2105 – 8th Street East

Saskatoon, SK, S7H 5N9

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Prairie Swine Centre  >  Nutrition
Nutrition Research Group

The overall goal of the nutrition research program at Prairie Swine Centre is to develop nutrition strategies that improve the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of pork production in Canada. This includes research projects to improve our understanding of nutrition, metabolism, and physiology at all stages of production. We work closely with researchers in Saskatchewan, across Canada, and worldwide to create a multidisciplinary research program to address the needs of the pork value chain.

Current themes of the nutrition research program include 1) the impact of dietary composition on animal health and nutrient requirements, 2) the impact of disease on nutrient requirements, 3) strategies to mitigate the negative effects of mycotoxins, 4) incorporation of alternative ingredients in swine diets, and 5) the effect of early-life nutrition on lifetime performance.

Current projects are funded by the Government of Saskatchewan – Agriculture Development Fund, Swine Innovation Porc – Canadian Agricultural Partnership, Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH, BIOMIN Holding GmbH, Mitacs, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Current Areas of Research
  1. Impact of dietary composition on animal health and nutrient requirements
  2. The impact of disease on nutrient requirements
  3. Srategies to mitigate the negative effects of mycotoxins
  4. Incorporation of alternative ingredients in swine diets
  5. The effect of early-life nutrition on lifetime performance.

Current research funding provided by: Government of Saskatchewan – Agriculture Development Fund, Swine Innovation Porc – Canadian Agricultural Partnership, NSERC Discovery, Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH, BIOMIN Holding GmbH, Mitacs, and Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission.

Current Nutrition Group Members

Dan Columbus, PhD
Research Scientist

Originally from Sarnia, Ontario, Dan completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph in Animal Biology in 2004. Dan went on to complete his graduate training at Guelph under the mentorship of Dr. Kees de Lange. His MSc research focused on the use of liquid feeding technology and phytase to improve availability of phosphorus in high-moisture corn based diets for newly-weaned pigs. His doctoral studies, completed in 2012, examined the impact of dietary ingredients on availability of amino acids and nitrogen and the efficiency of utilization of non-protein nitrogen sources, such as ammonia and urea, for growth.

After completing his graduate training, Dan moved to Houston, Texas, to complete post-doctoral training under Dr. Teresa Davis at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Centre, Baylor College of Medicine, where his research focused on examining nutrient regulation of muscle growth and development of nutritional therapies to improve growth of low-birth weight infants, using the pig as a model for the human infant.

Dan joined the Prairie Swine Centre in 2015 and leads the nutrition research program. Dan’s current research focuses on nutrition in the nursery and grower-finisher phase of pig production and on development of research studies utilizing the pig as a model for human nutrition and health.

Denise Beaulieu, PhD
Adjunct Research Scientist

Dr. Beaulieu joined the Prairie Swine Centre as Research Assistant to the President in 2001 and was promoted to Research Scientist in 2009. As such, she contributes to all aspects of the nutrition program from the recruitment of funds and protocol development to the actual conduct of the experiments, statistical analysis of the data and finally the reporting and/or publishing of the results.

Prior to joining the Prairie Swine Centre, Dr. Beaulieu was previously employed as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Ohio State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign where she was also a Visiting Assistant Professor.

Lucas Rodrigues, MSc
PhD Student

After obtaining my BSc degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2013 (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil), I was appointed at the Department of Animal Science as an MSc scholar, conducting studies from 2014 to 2016 on the effects of immunization against GnRF on heavy weight finishing gilts. The experimental work for my MSc was carried out at the experimental facilities of the FEPHB – UFMG (Brazil). I was the recipient of a CAPES scholarship and Professor Dalton Fontes and Professor Fernanda Almeida advised me. In March 2016, I was hired as a Swine Nutritionist at an animal nutrition company in Brazil. Starting June 2017, I was appointed as a Technical Advisor for the west region of Paraná state, one of main pork producing regions in Brazil. Since 2016, I have been in continuous contact with the development of new products, diet formulation, feed mills consulting, feedstock reports and field trials conduction.   I am currently enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy program at the Department of Animal and Poultry Science under the supervision of Dr. Dan Columbus, where I  have been awarded an SK Innovation & Opportunity Scholarship.

Michael Wellington, MSc
PhD Student

Michael Wellington is a PhD student at University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Van Kessel (Department of Animal and Poultry Science) and Dr. Daniel Columbus (Prairie Swine Centre Inc.). His research focuses on examining the effects of high dietary fibre and immune challenge on threonine requirements and robustness of grower pigs. Michael is originally from Accra, Ghana and obtained his BSc. (Hons) Agriculture with a major in Animal Science from the University of Ghana in 2012. He then served as a teaching and research assistant at the Department of Animal Science in the same university (Sept 2012- June 2013). He   worked as a technical sales officer with Maridav Ghana limited from July 2013 until July 2014.

He then started a Master’s Degree program in August 2014 under the Erasmus mundus European Union scholarship at the Swedish University of Agricultural sciences and the University of Copenhagen. He completed his MSc studies in August 2016 obtaining a double degree master in Animal Science. His MSc research focused on nutritional strategies to improve growth performance, reduce antibiotic use and improve meat product quality using the guinea pig as a meat animal model. Michael is training as PhD to have advanced knowledge and research skills in swine nutrition and gut health/function.

Rochelle Thiessen, BSc
MSc Student

Rochelle Thiessen is an MSc student at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Columbus (Prairie Swine Centre Inc.) and Dr. Andrew Van Kessel (Department of Animal and Poultry Science). Her research focuses on examining the impact of dietary fibre and fermentable protein on the threonine requirements of grower pigs as well as its impacts on animal health/gut barrier function. Rochelle grew up in the small town of Hague, SK and obtained her BSc. Agriculture with a major in Animal Science from the University of Saskatchewan in April 2017. Rochelle had previously developed her passion for working in the livestock industry after working for Fast Genetics in Spiritwood, SK as a Swine Production Technician for the last 3 summers. She also received the P.A. Thacker Undergraduate Scholarship in Swine Production at the University of Saskatchewan in March of 2017. Rochelle recently began her MSc in May 2017 and is training to further her knowledge and research skills in swine nutrition and gut health/function.

Michael Bosompem, BSc.
MSc Student

Michael Bosompem graduated from the University of Ghana, Legon with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture (Animal Science major). He then worked with the Government of Ghana at the district level as an Agric extension agent from October 2013 through August 2014. He later joined GCB Bank (Erstwhile UT Bank) from October 2014 until September 2017 where he advised the bank on technical agricultural issues relating to Argic financing products. Michael is originally from the Eastern Region of Ghana but has lived in Accra almost all his life. In September 2018, Michael joined the University of Saskatchewan where he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Animal Science under the supervision of Dr. Dan Columbus (Prairie Swine Centre, Inc). His project will focus on the “Long term feeding of graded levels of Deoxynivalenol (DON) in Grower-Finisher pigs” and is funded by the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) – Government of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, and BIOMIN Holding GmbH. Ultimately, this project seeks to determine the economic viability of feeding mycotoxin‐contaminated diets in grower-finisher pigs. Michael’s career goal is to become a monogastric nutritionist in the industry or academia and he believes the University of Saskatchewan and the Prairie Swine Centre, Inc are the best training grounds to achieve this.

Jade Sands – Undergraduate Research Assistant (completed 2019)
‘Validation of a swine model of neonatal undernutrition’

Paisley Johnson – Undergraduate Research Assistant (completed 2019)
‘Validation of a swine model of neonatal undernutrition’

Jack Krone – Undergraduate Research Assistant (completed 2019)
‘Examining urea flux mechanisms in the porcine gastrointestinal tract’

Miriam ter Borgh – Undergraduate Research Assistant (completed 2018)
‘Examining urea flux mechanisms in the porcine gastrointestinal tract’

Atta Agyekum, PhD – Postdoctoral Associate (completed 2018)
‘Development of low-cost feeding strategies in gestating sows’

Vaishnavi Iyer Aka Aiyer – Undergraduate Research Assistant (completed 2017)
‘Determining the effect of feed intake and spray-dried animal plasma in mitigating the negative effects of deoxynivalenol in nursery pigs’