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Prairie Swine Centre  >  Nutrition

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, Mitacs, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, 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 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.

Josiane Panisson, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Originally from São Miguel do Oeste, Brazil, Josiane Carla Panisson obtained her undergraduate in Animal Science from Universidade do estado de Santa Catarina – UDESC. After she finished her BSc degree, she started working in a technical secondary school as an Animal Science teacher.  In 2014, she enrolled in an MSc program in Animal Science (swine and poultry nutrition) at the Universidade Federal do Parana – UFPR. After completion, she obtained her PhD from the same university in 2020. The research program was developed mainly by the Animal Nutrition Research Laboratory (LEPNAN). In 2018, through the ELAP (Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program) scholarship, she came to University of Saskatchewan as a visiting researcher under the supervision of Dr. Denise Beaulieu.  She joined the Prairie Swine Centre and University of Saskatchewan as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2020.

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.

Cara Cargo-Froom MSc.
PhD Student

Hailing from Guelph ON, Cara completed her BScH in Animal Biology and MSc in Animal Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Cara is now a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Anna Kate Shoveller at the University of Guelph and working closely with Dr. Dan Columbus at the Prairie Swine Centre to complete her studies. Cara’s MSc work focused on mineral digestibility in canines, however, during her MSc, Cara worked as a Monogastric Research Assistant for Trouw Nutrition, which gave her hands on experience with swine and poultry. Through work and research Cara has gained experience in canine, equine, swine, and poultry nutrition. Recently, Cara completed a 2 month internship with the University of Saskatchewan/Prairie Swine Centre to work on a feed processing study to determine the effects of different feed processing measures (i.e. type of process, temperature, etc.) on nutrients and the protein quality of pulse ingredients. This study will feed into Cara’s in vivo work, which will focus on comparing current methodologies used for the assessment of protein quality and the use of pulses as alternative protein ingredients in swine diets. After her PhD is complete Cara hopes to experience life at a different university or research centre as a Post-Doctoral fellow.

Carley Camire, BSc.
Masters Student

Carley graduated from the University of Guelph with a BScH in Animal Biology. Originally from Toronto ON, she was able to gain experience working with swine at the Arkell Swine Research Station in Guelph from 2017-2019. There, as well as through nutrition courses at school, she developed a passion for animal nutrition. Carley decided to pursue a master’s degree in animal nutrition and will be working under the supervision of Dr. Dan Columbus at the University of Saskatchewan. Her project will focus on “The role of dietary nitrogen in improving amino acid utilization” with the ultimate goal of meeting amino acid requirements through the use of dietary nitrogen in low-protein diets to maximize efficiency and optimize growth performance while reducing the environmental impact. After completion of her master’s, Carley would like to continue with swine nutrition research while working towards her PhD in the hopes of becoming an animal nutritionist in industry and/or in academia.

Miranda Buchinski, BSc
MSc Student

Miranda Buchinski graduated from the University of Saskatchewan this spring with a BSc in Animal Bioscience. She was born and raised in Langley, British Columbia, and spent several summers working at Thunderbird Show Park where she developed an interest in animal nutrition. Through nutrition courses and other work experience, Miranda developed a passion for this topic area. As a result, she chose to pursue a master’s degree under the guidance of Dr. Dan Columbus at the University of Saskatchewan, in swine nutrition. After completion of this degree, Miranda hopes to pursue a career in the animal nutrition or feed industry.

Postdoctoral Fellows

 Michael Wellington (2020 – 2021), ‘Effect of birth weight and neonatal undernutrition on nutrient utilization’

Atta Agyekum (2016 – 2018), ‘Processed fibre to improve performance in gestating and lactating sows’


Graduate Students

 Michael Bosompem, MSc student (2018 – 2020), ‘Effect of long-term feeding of graded levels of deoxynivalenol to grower-finisher pigs’

Michael Wellington, PhD student (2016 – 2020), ‘Interactive effect of dietary fibre and immune challenge on threonine requirement and intestinal barrier function in growing pigs’

Rochelle Thiessen, MSc student (2017 – 2019), ‘Impact of dietary fibre and indigestible protein on threonine requirements’


Undergraduate Honours Thesis Students

Jade Sands (2020 – 2021), ‘Management strategies to improve performance of sows and piglets’

Jack Krone (2018 – 2019), ‘Examining urea flux mechanisms in the porcine gastrointestinal tract’

Vaishnavi Iyer Aka Aiyer (2016 – 2017), ‘Impact of deoxynivalenol-contaminated diets in nursery pigs’


Undergraduate Research Assistants 

  • Victoria Windrem (2020)
  • Keara Leong-Machielse (2020)
  • Jade Sands (2019)
  • Paisley Johnson (2019)
  • Jack Krone (2019)
  • Miriam ter Borgh (2018)
  • Liam Kelln (2017)