Clayton McWilliams

Role: HQP Scholar

Degree: M.Sc.

Project: Effect of glycerol supplementation on fresh cow metabolic health status and productivity in automated milking system herds

Department: Department of Animal Biosciences (OAC)

What inspired you to pursue your current degree? 

I grew up on my family’s farm in Navan, Ontario, and was always interested in a career in agriculture. After completing my Bachelor’s in Agriculture Science at the University of Guelph, I became interested in how research drives the agriculture industry. I also have a strong background in dairy science which led me to my current degree, a Master’s in animal biosciences focused on dairy nutrition.

What about your research area excites you? 

I am excited about the prospect of developing precision feeding techniques for dairy cows housed in robot herds. The research results will provide new tools for dairy managers to improve individual milk yield and farm profitability.

What challenges do you find in your research, and how do you try to overcome them? 

The main challenge I have faced in my research is managing data collected through different management software used by dairy producers. I have dealt with these challenges by connecting with representatives from each company.

How would you describe your research and the implications of your project? 

My research focuses on precision feeding techniques to mitigate metabolic disorders in fresh dairy cows. I am feeding a product to cows in their first 21 days of lactation to observe the effects on health and production. This technique can be adopted by dairy consultants and managers to improve the individual management of cows housed in group settings.

What are three of your favourite activities outside the lab? 

Three of my favourite activities outside the lab are showing draft horses, hunting, and training my dog for agility competitions.

What is one important thing you have learned during the pandemic?

I think the pandemic demonstrated our food system’s fragility and our reliance on a healthy labour force. Sectors, including animal processing, shipping, and production, were and continue to be restricted by a lack of labour force. I feel this is why those in the agriculture industry readily adopt the trend toward automated technology.