Associate Professor, William Dawson Scholar and Industrial Research Chairholder
NSERC/Novalait/Dairy Farmers of Canada/Valacta Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle
elsa.vasseur [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS1-087 | www.cowlifemcgill.com | @CowLifeMcGill
BSc Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, ISA Lille (2002)
MSc Rural Development (2004) ISA Lille
MSc Animal Behavior (2005) AgroParisTech
PhD Animal Sciences (2009) Université Laval
Awards and Recognitions
William Dawson Scholar (McGill University's equivalent of a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair) (2020-current)
NSERC/Novalait/Dairy Farmers of Canada/Valacta Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle (2016-current)
NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (Visiting Fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories Program) (2010-2011)
Dr. Elsa Vasseur is an Associate Professor at McGill University and the Chairholder of the NSERC/Novalait/Dairy Farmers of Canada/Valacta Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle since 2016. Dr. Elsa Vasseur’s academic background is multidisciplinary and areas of expertise are many: i) applied animal behaviour science (ethology) for a better understanding of animal needs; ii) the development of outcome measures of welfare for animals in confinement and the links in between those outcomes and the risk factors in housing and management; iii) the measures of long-term (herd) profitability and animal survival (longevity) in dairy herds; iv) the integration of animal welfare and longevity (economics) with the other components of sustainability of farming (environmental impacts, social acceptability); and v) the study of knowledge and technology transfer methods to encourage adoption of new practices by farmers. Her international interests and experience include a CIDA project in the DR Congo looking at reducing poverty through renewable charcoal-based agroforestry systems; and an on-going project financed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) to understand the performance and adaptation of livestock systems in milk and meat sectors in Senegal in the context of climate change.
Despite the fact that her overall research program covers a wide range of topics and species, Vasseur and her team have primarily focused their research work for the last 5 years (and current) on the NSERC-Novalait-DFC-Valacta IRC on Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle. Three main research themes are covered:
Theme 1: Cow comfort and Management
The first research theme focuses on producers’ needs to provide a suitable environment for future compliance requirements; another goal is to better understand the needs for animal comfort. As current research on comfort is mostly with free stall systems, it is relevant, to optimize recommendations, to carry out projects with tie-stall systems which are predominant in Quebec and in Canadian dairies. An example of research question is: Could some farming practices compensate for deficient stall configuration?
Theme 2: Cow longevity
The second research theme focuses on the sustainability of the industry in terms of long - term measures of profitability and survival of animals in the herds. Replacement animals and cows in production are under scrutiny. Projects of this theme will benefit from data collected on the commercial farms and Valacta/Lactanet database. An example of research question is: What is the relationship between rearing and cow cow longevity?
Theme 3: Environment and Society
The third research theme broadens the perspective on international standards, life cycle analyses, and consumer acceptability. We will validate that the measures to improve cow welfare and longevity are not in contradiction with the overall sustainability (environmental, economic and social) of dairy farming. An example of research question is: Could improving comfort may conflict with improving the environmental footprint?