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Chairholder Profile

Michael Steele

Michael Steele

Animal Biosciences
University of Guelph

Chair title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Nutrition

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Associate Chairholder since 2016


There are 1 million dairy cows in Canada, on more than 12,000 farms that contribute $8 billion to our domestic economy. While Canadian dairy cattle are raised according to the highest standards of animal care, diseases and disorders in young stock are still a serious threat to animal health and welfare, and to the profitability of the agricultural industry. Because the immune system of calves is not fully developed in early life, calves are highly susceptible to gastrointestinal infections that can depress growth and development and even cause death in severe cases.

The specific goal of this research chair is to develop feeding and management practices for calves and ruminants in general that will promote proper gut colonization and development, thereby decreasing susceptibility to enteric infection and use of antibiotic, while increasing growth and future productivity.

The proposed research projects will integrate several classical nutrition and physiology techniques with high-throughput genomics techniques such as metagenomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics. This will help us gain a better understanding of how nutritional and management factors common in dairy production can affect gastrointestinal development during the phase before calves are weaned.

The research program will benefit the industrial partners and the Canadian dairy industry by providing important information for dairy producers about the impacts that commonly used nutrition and management practices have on the growth, development and production of calves. This research is expected to lead to improved animal welfare and help reduce mortality, morbidity and antibiotic use in dairy calf production, resulting in greater consumer acceptance and appreciation of the Canadian dairy industry.


  • Alberta Milk
  • Dairy Farmers of Manitoba
  • Westgen
  • Lallemand Inc.
  • British Columbia Dairy Association
  • SaskMilk Saskatchewan Milk Marketing Board
  • Trouw/Nutreco
  • Bayer Animal Health

Contact information

Animal Biosciences
University of Guelph