Increasing Lakeland’s livestock research activities and student involvement in applied research are among the goals of the newest member of Lakeland College’s applied research team.
Dr. Obioha Durunna joined Lakeland in January as a livestock research scientist. He’s excited to use his skill set and innovative ideas to grow Lakeland’s livestock research, specifically in the area of production efficiency for grazing livestock.
“One of my goals is to help develop Lakeland’s livestock research. I have a great interest in feed efficiency and the use of telemetry to improve selection of efficient livestock, so I hope Lakeland will become a go-to place for livestock producers to learn how telemetry and other simple tools can support them,” says Durunna who has been researching feed efficiency since 2007.
Telemetry is an automated communications process that transmits data collected remotely for monitoring. Durunna says this method would be beneficial to producers with grazing animals in pastures that are not easily accessible because their performance can be “assessed without changing their normal behaviour.”
Lakeland uses GrowSafe technology for monitoring the individual feed intake of animals at the G.N. Sweet Livestock Research Facility at the Vermilion campus. Durunna noted that this technology will support his goal.
He added Lakeland’s Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland’s dairy, beef and sheep units create vast research opportunities.
Another priority for the researcher is to work on collaboratively integrating applied research into academic programming and increasing student involvement. He’d like to help students develop research skills so when they graduate they have a skill set that will keep them at the top of the job market.
“Increasing access to applied research activities could help the students become aware of the tools and processes that are required to (excel) in applied research. The students don't have to be statistic gurus or research experts, but I hope they'll take something with them as they move on to different careers.”
Durunna previously worked for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; and Livestock Gentec which is based at the University of Alberta, his alma mater. His past research on feed efficiency and feeding behaviors have been published in numerous research journals.
Lakeland College’s applied research efforts are focused primarily on agriculture, environmental sciences and energy. Specific to agriculture, Lakeland’s focus is on research that supports commercial crop and livestock activities that are prevalent in the region.
In 2018, Dr. Obioha Durunna was appointed adjunct professor at the Department of Animal and Poultry Science, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan (USask).
Adjunct professors are individuals whose knowledge, expertise and skills will support the host institution’s graduate students’ research work, courses and programs. They are expected to be actively engaged in research, supervise graduate students and teach graduate classes. The adjunct appointment raises the profile of Lakeland College through research activities and academic publications that support livestock industry. Dr. Durunna's status enables Lakeland to participate in the training of highly qualified personnel.
Dr. Durunna’s 2019 research technician, Iris Ho In Cheang, was recently accepted to pursue her MSc degree at USask, co-supervised by Dr. Durunna and Dr. Bart Lardner. Her thesis will focus on the production and health outcomes associated with feeding garlic-infused mineral supplements to cattle. She will take formal classes at the USask main campus in Saskatoon but will conduct her research projects at Lakeland. Data collection for the first year has been concluded.
Additionally, the adjunct position creates the opportunity for other Lakeland’s staff accepted into graduate programs (Animal and Poultry Science dept.) to conduct their research project at the college.