Meet Kaley Mackie - Beef Technician at New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station

By Emily Potter, Beef North Project Assistant

Tell me about yourself:

I was raised on a beef farm on the Northern Bruce Peninsula, in the small village of Lions Head, Ontario. My family runs a backgrounding operation where we winter western calves and then put them on grass throughout the summer. I've been very involved in the operation from a young age. I attended the University of Guelph to complete my Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Masters of Science. My master's project looked at gastrointestinal nematodes (roundworms) in a rotationally grazed cow-calf herd in Ontario and the effect of two commonly used dewormers (Ivermectin and Fenbendazole) on animal performance. This work was done at the Elora Beef Research Centre with Drs. Gordon, Menzies and Bateman. I moved up north to become a Beef Research Technician at the New Liskeard Research Station (NLARS).

What made you decide to move up north and how are you liking it up here?

My current job at NLARS was the main deciding factor for my move north, but the curiosity for the rumoured agricultural potential of Northern Ontario pushed my fiancé (Bryce Rodman) and me to take the opportunity. Temiskaming is beautiful. Everyone we have met so far has been very pleasant and helpful. There is definitely a strong sense of community here.

How has your view of agriculture in the north changed since your move?

Before I moved, I had heard people speak of agriculture in Northern Ontario, but never thought much of it. I was surprised by the amount of thriving and progressive agricultural operations, both large and small, currently in Temiskaming. With hard work and time, I think there is potential for the Cochrane district to be just as agriculturally influenced.

What is your opinion on the future of the beef industry and the importance of beef in the north?

The future of the Ontario beef industry hinges on the next generation and market access. I think there is strong potential for beef in the north to help build cow numbers in the province. However, I would not underestimate the obstacles that will need to be overcome. To establish a profitable beef operation in a new area will take a lot of work, an open mind and a sharp pencil! Though not for everyone, it is worth checking out and seeing if the north is a fit for you and your family.

What kind of research is currently ongoing in the north and what is its significance? Why do we need to continue doing research in the north?

We can never have enough research. With beef margins being as volatile as they are, producers are always looking for ways to lower input costs. Trials and studies, like those mentioned below, are critical in determining what works best, or, just as importantly, what does not work in this region.

Examples of recent trials at NLARS:

  • Improving the utilization of forages by yearlings in Northern Ontario (this includes grazing alfalfa and feeding haylages supplemented with a bypass protein and then assessing growth performance, carcass and meat characteristics)
  • Evaluating young beef bulls for efficiency, sexual development and meat quality
  • Winter grazing options for the region, including grazing stockpiled corn and pastures
  • Feeding conventional and unconventional feedstuffs (i.e. forest waste products) and the effects on performance of gestating beef cows in Northern Ontario

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