New Research Investments

Novalait and the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Industrial Bioprocesses in Quebec (CRIBIQ) team up to fund research projects that meet the priorities set by dairy farmers and processors. Here is the harvest of the 2nd call for proposals: promising initiatives!

Vitamins post-calving: a way to increase cow fertility?After calving, dairy cows are less fertile for up to three months, particularly high-yielding cows. Why is this? It could be that a deficiency of vitamins A and D negatively affects fertilization. Herds rarely go out in the spring to feed on pastures rich in vitamins A and D, a situation which is known to affect fertility. According to past studies, a lack of these two substances can lead to an energy deficiency, and genes that depend on vitamin A are abnormally expressed 60 days post-calving. In this new research, professor Marc-André Sirard's team will examine if cows are more easily fertilized when they take a vitamin A and D supplement between the 50th and 90th day following calving. Forty-eight cows will undergo blood testing to establish their energy profile upon taking a vitamin supplement and will then be inseminated. A similar vitamin supply has already been studied, but never during this key period in the reproduction cycle. The hypothesis is that the ovaries will sense a seasonal effect and that a targeted supplement of vitamins A and D will reproduce the arrival of fresh pasture (vitamin A) in spring (vitamin D) and influence fertility.
Increasing eco-efficiency by concentrating dairy fluidsFiltering milk to extract water and concentrate proteins is a widespread practice in dairy technology. It makes the production of a host of foods possible, in addition to making processing more eco-efficient. The method calls for the use of “baromembrane” processes, including reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration, which are garnering a growing amount of interest. The result is a concentrate that is rich in proteins, as well as the production of whey, a liquid by-product. The residue from reverse osmosis presents a composition that is very close to water and can be used in dairy plants to reduce the consumption of potable water, whereas the whey obtained through ultrafiltration contains lactose and mineral salts that make it difficult to use. This research, supervised by Yves Pouliot, will measure the energy gains obtained by applying these new practices to cheese processing and the valorization of whey in an industrial context. It will draw on the knowledge and simulation software recently developed by the NSERC-Novalait Industrial Research Chair on Process Efficiency in Dairy Technology. The results will then be used to complete an initial evaluation of the potential of using whey obtained through ultrafiltration on dairy farms.
Increasing cow profitability by optimizing proteins Protein is the most expensive ingredient in rations fed to dairy cows, constituting 42% of feed costs. Moreover, more than 70% of this investment is excreted without even contributing to milk production. Dejections contain a large quantity of nitrogen, the base component of the amino acids that form proteins. A ration offering a better balance of amino acids would reduce nitrogen ingestion, consequently lowering feed costs without negatively affecting milk yield. In this project, researcher Christiano Côrtes plans to demonstrate that it is profitable to offer cows a more balanced diet in this respect. After studying the practices being used on 12 commercial farms equipped with feed robots, he will test a ration optimized with nitrogen and compare it to a control ration. The exercise should lead to the development of feed strategies applicable to dairy farms.
Identifying bioprotective cultures that extend the shelf life of dairy productsWho has never found a container of yogurt in the back of their refrigerator dotted with blue-green flecks, destined only for the trash? Diary products have a limited shelf life due to undesirable microorganisms that develop and alter their taste. This is the case for yogurt, pasteurized milk and grated cheese, to name just a few. However, it may be possible to control the growth of these microorganisms by using bioprotective cultures. Bioprotective cultures produce natural antimicrobial compounds that can slow the appearance of bacteria, yeasts and mould, in addition to preventing the formation of compounds with unpleasant odours, resulting in food products with a longer shelf life. Professor Marie Filteau is beginning to research how different bioprotective cultures interact with harmful microorganisms by applying new, systematic analysis methods on a large scale. Ultimately, her team plans to develop mixes of bioprotective cultures adapted to specific dairy products to increase their shelf life and thereby reduce food waste.