Dairy Farmers of Canada’s 2020 Dairy Research Highlights

Dairy Farmers of Canada’s (DFC) 2020 Dairy Research Highlights is now available for download on Dairy Farmers of Canada’s website in the Dairy Research section at: https://dairyfarmersofcanada.ca/en/dairy-research

The publication contains relevant information on DFC’s investments in dairy production and human nutrition and health research, its research funding partners, a list of research projects in progress, as well as some of the main outcomes resulting from research and knowledge translation and transfer activities in 2020. A new section of the document includes a list of the institutions in Canada where DFC-funded research is being carried out as well as short biographies from four individuals that describe how and why they chose careers in scientific research in the Canadian dairy sector.

Excerpts from the 2020 report

Investments in research

  • In 2020, DFC invested $1.7 million in dairy production and human nutrition and health research, which was boosted to $9 million by leveraging its investments through grant programs and partnerships. DFC and 30 partners support scientific research to drive innovation in the Canadian dairy sector. 
  • More than half of the research investments (58%) target priorities associated to the role of dairy products in human nutrition and health.
  • 23% of investments target priorities in animal health and welfare; 15% on farm efficiency and sustainability and another 4% on milk composition and quality.
  • 39 research projects are in progress at 35 institutions including research centres and universities across Canada.
  • 124 scientists and 113 graduate students and postdocs are conducting studies in dairy production and human nutrition and health.
  • 3,023 dairy farmers from coast to coast are investing their time as part of several research projects to help drive innovation in the Canadian dairy sector.
  • More than 200 communications and knowledge translation and transfer products in both languages were developed and disseminated to targeted user audiences (Canadian dairy farmers, stakeholders, health professionals and Canadians).

10 key outcomes from DFC investments in research 

Dairy Farm Efficiency and Sustainability

  • In April 2021, Lactanet Canada was the first organization to introduce Feed Efficiency genetic evaluations for the Holstein breed in Canada and among the first globally to provide Feed Efficiency evaluations. Many partners domestically and internationally (including DFC) contributed to this five-year project that received $10.3 million in funding.
  • Three factsheets were developed and distributed to over 5,000 Canadian dairy farmers as part of the proAction® Environment module roll out for which farm environmental assessments will begin this September 2021. The content promotes best practices to mitigate greenhouse gases through livestockmanure, and crop management for better farm sustainability. 
  • Preliminary research results suggest that a slag filter (iron with a gravel pit) can be a low cost, highly effective method for collecting and treating nutrient-rich runoff from bunker silos. Researchers found that the collection and treatment of runoff with a slag filter could be more effective and durable than some other commercially available filters.

Animal Health and Welfare

  • Increasing evidence is being published under the Chair in Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle and a Dairy Research Cluster 3 project on the opportunity for dairy cattle movement suggesting that increased dairy cow mobility benefits the animal’s health, behaviour, and welfare. Studies have shown that the animals are motivated to be outside, and when they had more outdoor access, had fewer incidences of lameness and injury.
  • factsheet was developed to support farmers’ decision-making when drying off cull dairy cattle at high production and emergency situations. Following the procedures can also help farmers comply with the new revised federal regulations (2020) for dairy cattle transport.
  • Recent key findings from the Chair in Dairy Cattle Welfare at the University of British Columbia included recommendations and practices for feeding and housing calves; helping heifers adapt to new situations like housing; transition cow health and care; outdoor access for dairy cattle; comfort for cows when calving; and the effectiveness of benchmarking reports to help farmers improve calf management.

Milk Composition, Quality and Safety

  • Preliminary research results have shown that an increasing number of farmers are adopting best management practices for selective dry cow therapy (35% in 2019 compared to 11% in 2015) and selective treatment of clinical mastitis (59% of farmers), which has the potential to reduce antibiotic use and resistance.
  • New resources and tools like factsheetsreports and services have been developed to assist farmers, in consultation with their veterinarians, to apply protocols for the adoption of selective dry cow therapy.

Milk Products and their Components in Human Nutrition and Health

  • Research results from a randomized controlled trial found that dairy products consumed as part of a weight management and exercise program for over-weight/obese adolescent females had favourable effects on their body composition. The researchers concluded that dairy products should remain a part of their healthy diet.
  • DFC’s dietitians organized and delivered webinars to health professionals and produced two factsheets that were distributed to 8,296 health professionals, teachers, and sector stakeholders to reinforce the importance of the role of dairy products in Canadians’ diets.

Visit the Dairy Research hub or DairyNutrition.ca to access the content.

My Dairy Research Student Competition

Dairy Farmers of Canada’s (DFC) My Dairy Research Student Competition was launched on June 21st and is receiving keen interest amongst students working in Canadian dairy research.

This new online competition is targeted to all graduate students (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) involved in a research project funded by DFC in a Canadian university.

The objective of the competition is to engage students in the creation of innovative content for research users, which features their project’s results, new knowledge and the impacts/benefits of their research for the dairy sector and Canadians.

This nationwide online competition provides opportunities to graduate students:

  • To apply their science communications and knowledge transfer skills in developing content for research users;
  • To receive acknowledgement for their research in an online community of potential future employers in the dairy sector; and,
  • To be part of DFC’s dairy research success stories showcased in multiple online channels.

Graduate students (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) are invited to prepare and submit content, in English or French, describing their dairy research project and results in one of the following categories. Content must include the following: key project results, methods used, new knowledge and the potential economic, social or environmental impacts of the research on the dairy sector and Canadians. 

  • Podcast (max. 3 min.)
  • Video (max. 3 min.) 
  • Infographic (max. 1 page)

All entries will be evaluated by a Selection Committee. A minimum score of 75 out of 100 must be met to be eligible for a prize. The three entries with the highest scores in each category will be posted online on Facebook for public viewing and voting. 


Grand Prize: $1,500 cash prize, in each category, for the submission that received the most votes from the public.

Second Prize: $800 cash prize, in each category, for the submission that received the second highest number of votes from the public.

Third Prize: $500 cash prize, in each category, for the submission that received the third highest number of votes from the public.


  • September 15, 2021 – Deadline for submissions at info@dairyresearch.ca
  • October 15, 2021 – Selection Committee identifies the top three submissions in each category
  • October 22 – November 5, 2021 – Online Public Voting Period 
  • November 9, 2021 – Prizes announced

*FINAL EDITION* of the DairyResearchBlog.ca

After seven years and 185 published articles in English and French, today’s posts are part of the final edition of the DairyResearchBlog.ca. Effective August 1st, 2021, the Blog will be progressively shut down. The URL for the blog will remain live until the process of migrating content from the blog to the knowledge transfer section of Lactanet’s website at lactanet.ca is complete (Fall 2021). Recall that DFC is partnering with Lactanet to include DFC KTT materials on the Lactanet website. Content like extension articles and factsheets currently found on the DairyResearchBlog.ca and DairyResearch.ca sites is being transferred over in the context of a new DFC-Lactanet partnership in KTT content delivery that will optimize dairy farmers’ search and access to a combination of tools and materials online in one national, central location. To subscribe to Lactanet’s monthly newsletter, click here:  Dairy Knowledge at Your Fingertips.

The link DairyResearch.ca will remain live to re-direct users to Dairy Farmers of Canada’s NEW Dairy Research Hub that houses DFC research content, such as governance, research programs, strategies, partners, etc. The DairyResearch.ca site will also be progressively shut down by the end of 2021. We invite the scientific community to subscribe to Dairy Farmers of Canada’s new Dairy Research newsletter that will be published quarterly and contain announcements and updates on calls for research funding proposals along with other pertinent research program news. Click here to subscribe: Dairy Research Newsletter.

We wish to thank all our readers and subscribers for following the blog and providing comments and feedback over the years!