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Lydia Conrad

Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
Office: ANNU 043

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  • B.Sc. Animal Biology, University of Guelph, 2017-2021
  • M.Sc. Animal Behaviour and Welfare (Thesis), University of Guelph, 2021-Present


I grew up in a small rural community and have worked in many different agriculture sectors. I love working directly with both people and animals, and hope to have a career in research and academia. Growing up in a farming community exposed me to all sorts of animals and levels of animal care. I have always felt a responsibility to treat animals with respect, which is why I am passionate about animal behaviour and welfare. 

In my spare time I enjoy going for walks and fishing with my dog, Russell. I also love working with children and volunteer for Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County as a mentor.

Research Experience 

During my undergrad I worked with Dr. Renée Bergeron through an undergrad research assistantship, as part of the work study program and to complete a fourth-year research project studying piglet crushing and mortality for sows farrowing in huts. This involved conducting behavioural analysis of farrowed sows and their piglets in three different styles of farrowing huts on pasture. As welfare concerns grow for the housing of gestating and farrowing sows, new housing systems need to be investigated.

I also volunteered with Dr. Michael Steele as a research assistant in his lab. I helped with various calf nutrition projects studying by performing histology imaging and measurement. I also aided on farm, and participated in blood and fecal sampling, biopsy collection, naval and body condition scoring, and animal dissections. 

Current Education and Research

I am currently completing a thesis based M.Sc. in animal behaviour and welfare. My advisors are Dr. Renée Bergeron and Dr. James Squires. I am investigating the use of genetic selection for low boar taint animals as an alternative to surgical castration in the pork industry. Boar taint refers to the unfavourable taste and smell associated with cooking meat from intact boars and is largely associated with the animal’s level of androsterone. Part of this research involves also considering the behavioural effects of raising intact boars, which will be conducted through behavioural observations as well as animal approach tests. We are also investigating the level of androsterone in heritage breed pigs through back fat biopsy sampling, since the level of boar taint in these breeds in unknown. Eliminating the need to perform castrating would make genetic selection a more welfare friendly and economic alternative. 

I have assisted my lab mate Vanessa Pasquale on her ongoing pig transportation project.

I am also working as a teaching assistant.


  • Canada's Graduate Scholarship, awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (2021)