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Lakeland College researcher wins Award of Distinction

A livestock research scientist at Lakeland College, is in winner’s row for the Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) 2022 Award of Distinction.

Dr. Brenda Ralston has been singled out for her exceptional contributions to the field of livestock welfare.

The AFAC accolade recognizes one individual or group who has made exceptional contributions to the field of livestock welfare, through either leadership, innovation or communication.

Dr. Ralston began her 35-year career with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development as a district agriculturist, moving to the role of beef specialist in 1994. During this time, she received her B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Alberta, M.Sc. in Veterinary Parasitology from the University of Calgary and a Ph.D. in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. She is also a cattle producer and works with her family on their century farm, Twin Lakes Ranch.

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In accepting the award Ralston said, “I am honoured and humbled to be the 2022 recipient of AFAC’s Award of Distinction. AFAC continues to be a strong champion of animal welfare and wellness for food producing livestock as witnessed by their continued support of this award.”

Over her career, Dr. Ralston has been involved in multi-disciplinary livestock research for the poultry, dairy, lamb, horse and pork industries in the areas of pain control and pathogen mitigation. Most notably, she has helped bring livestock pharmaceuticals that address animal welfare issues related to management procedures to market, including:

  • The Care-Ring anesthetic elastrator band to reduce the pain of castration
  • Oral Meloxicam for the beef, dairy and equine industries
  • An anti-bloat agent used to reduce animal discomfort when grazing alfalfa and enhance gains
  • Practical solutions to address antimicrobial resistance at the farm level for targeted selection of antibiotic groups for better animal outcomes and enhanced antibiotic stewardship.

Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC executive director said,”Dr. Ralston’s research results in products producers can use to improve animal care practices. We can’t think of a more worthy candidate.”

Ralston paid tribute to her peers and colleagues at Lakeland College.

““It takes a team to make advancements in animal welfare and wellness, including livestock producers, industry organizations, industry partners and businesses, academia, governments, research funders and the students and employees of Lakeland College that have supported the animal research that has led to this award. I see livestock welfare and wellness continuing to play an ever increasingly important role in agriculture and I look forward to being a part of future discoveries in this area with all our collaborators.”

AFAC conveyed the award at its virtual conference March 15-17th.

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