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Ilona Parenteau


Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
email: iparente@uoguelph.ca
Phone: (647) 377-8733
Office: ANNU 045

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Upon completing my undergraduate studies in 2013, I was employed by Halchemix (http://www.halchemixcanada.com/), a Canadian supplier of feed ingredients for commercial animals. During my 4 years of working in customer service, I developed a special interest in animal nutrition and decided to pursue a Masters with Dr. Elijah Kiarie, working on laying hens. Although short, my industry experience showed me the impact animal nutritionists have on global sustainability, both economically and environmentally. With the movement away from conventional practices, such as caged-housing and antibiotic use, new nutritional strategies are needed to optimize animal production and health, while minimizing costs and environmental pollution. Focusing on egg production, my research aims to meet all these goals through dietary manipulation, specifically, lowered protein (LP). LP diets are less costly, minimize harmful nitrogen emissions, and may improve gut health by lowering pathogenic activity in the hindgut. Protein restriction, however, may hinder performance if not formulated to meet the animal’s amino acid requirements. Currently, I am identifying the ideal level of supplemental isoleucine in LP diets for optimal laying performance. Isoleucine is one of three branched-chain amino acids, which are key metabolic and physiological regulators, and is hypothesized to be limiting in LP, corn-soybean diets. I will then apply my findings to birds subjected to various levels of protein restriction, to assess their response in terms of gut health and laying performance, while evaluating the environmental impact.

While in graduate school, my employment with Halchemix has continued part-time. I manage the marketing material and act as a liaison between the university and industry. Once I complete my degree, I will commence full-time employment as a nutritionist. Outside of academia, I volunteer with my hometown Agricultural Society and animal shelter, ride horses, and enjoy the outdoors hiking, canoeing, and photographing wildlife.