Elise Lafleur Lariviere
Position/Title: M.Sc. Candidate
From a young age, I knew I wanted a career focused on animal care. Therefore, I left my hometown in Northern Quebec and moved here to attend the University of Guelph where I completed my B.Sc. major Animal Biology. Early in my undergraduate degree I developed an interest in nutrition. This led me to enroll in nearly every animal nutrition class available. It is through the Swine Nutrition course that I was introduced to my advisor Dr. Lee-Anne Huber.
I am currently working towards a master’s by thesis. My research focuses on compensatory growth in nursery pigs and the effect of deoxynivalenol (DON) contamination of low-complexity diets on growth performance, gut health and immune function and whether feed additives may improve these parameters.
Weaning is an extremely stressful time for piglets and generally results in poor growth performance and immune function, especially in the first couple days post-weaning. Therefore, it is industry standard to feed these piglets expensive high-complexity diets with highly digestible animal-based protein sources to give these pigs the best start possible. However, research shows growing pigs can overcome a period of slow growth caused by some nutritional deficiencies by improving their growth performance in periods of adequate nutrient supply. Therefore, it may be possible for producers to reduce nursery feed costs by taking advantage of this ability and feeding cheaper low-complexity diets containing plant-based proteins instead.
However, increasing plant ingredients may increase the risk of high mycotoxins contamination in rations. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi. In 2018, a survey of Ontario corn ears reported 67% of samples had significant levels of DON contamination. Swine are very sensitive to DON which has adverse effects on their growth performance, gut health and immune function when ingested. Therefore, I am investigating a feed additive containing a blend of ingredients designed to combat DON toxicity and fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids for its immune modulating effects as possible additives to mitigate the negative impact of feeding DON-contaminated diets.
Following the completion of my M.Sc., I hope to head into the industry as a swine nutritionist.