Friday, January 29, 2021

Beef quality begins in uterus

Professor Marcio Duarte of Brazil is coming to Canada to research how development in an animal’s uterus impacts later life and meat quality.

He will join the University of Guelph’s Department of Animal Biosciences as assistant professor in meat science and muscle biology.

Duarte is currently an assistant professor in animal science at the Universidade Federal de Vi├žosa in Brazil.

Beef cattle are his main focus, although he also collaborates on swine research projects, and his specialization lies in improving meat quality through research into muscle biology, maternal nutrition, and fetal development.

“Skeletal development starts in the uterus and with a third of the animal’s life spent in-utero, we need to learn how we can manipulate the maternal diet to benefit fetal development,” he said.

“What we do during pre-natal development has consequences later in life for the calf.”

He also hopes to collaborate with animal nutritionists and geneticists to understand how the drive for feed efficiency impacts cellular development.

Several factors drew him to Guelph – the upgraded federally-inspected beef abattoir and new research facilities at Elora, colleagues who studied at the University of Guelph and support from Beef Farmers of Ontario.

It’s a welcome change in direction since the university cut eight faculty positions in Animal and Poultry Science as part of measures to slash the budget for Ontario Agriculture College in 2008.

Department chair Jim Squires said so far, the department has hired 14, including eight women. “We’ve built back up to our previous levels, and at the same time our productivity has grown, and our number of graduate students has grown as well.”