Canadian Poultry Magazine

VIDO – A New Veterinary Organization

By Canadian Poultry   

Features 100th anniversary Research Business/Policy Canada Poultry Research Research

June 1978

A major gap in the livestock disease research chain is being filled by a group of veterinary scientists here.

Dedicated to finding practical solutions that producers can use to fight common infectious diseases that still plague food-producing animals, the Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) was formed to bridge between basic science and its application on the farm.

VIDO’s objective is the control of common infectious diseases through preventative measures, drugs and management techniques that producers can readily use on their farms. High on the list of disorders to tackle are scours, mastitis, pneumonias, shipping fever and coccidiosis.


Founded in 1975, after a thorough investigation through the Science Council of Canada, VIDO is located on the University of Saskatchewan campus. This allows scientists access to the support facilities of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and other agricultural and medical research units. Financially, VIDO is independent of the University of Saskatchewan.

A new $4.25 million laboratory and a unique isolation building will be functioning early next year. These are already paid for through grants received from four major donors: Devonian Group of Charitable Foundations, University of Saskatchewan, and Alberta and Saskatchewan provincial governments.

The first major project of VIDO is the study of scours in calves and pigs for the next 3 to 5 years, according to the director, Dr. Chris Bigland.

“Scours cost Canada’s beef and dairy industry over $74 million in 1974. That’s $8.67 for each calf born alive and that’s why we started with scours,” said Bigland. “Results of the disease can be devastating to both hog and cattle producers.”

VIDO researchers are already making progress in their investigation of scours by using both actual farm conditions and sophisticated laboratory equipment.

Dr. Steve Acres, a research associate is experimenting with management control techniques and also field testing a new vaccine. He is preparing a detailed report of his findings for release early in 1978.

Dr. Bob Worthington, a visiting scientist from South Africa has had encouraging results from his experiments to produce a toxin vaccine to control the many strains of E. coli bacteria that cause diarrhea in animals.

Dr. Bigland emphasized the importance of producer input to VIDO’s research plans. “We’re sensitive to producer needs and we’ll respond to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s the poultry, cattle, swine or sheep industry that has a problem. We want to tackle the common diseases that other organizations seem to be ignoring.”

“VIDO has charted a 10 year research plan and the next major disease we’ll study is the pneumonia complex, if our agricultural economist pinpoints it as the most costly disease after scours,” he said.

Seven and a Half Million For Next 5 Years

To carry on this unique type of practical research, Bigland stressed the need for long term funding. “Our goal is to raise $7.5 million for the next 5 years of operation,” he said.

He explained that VIDO hoped to raise $2.5 million from the Canadian government, $2.5 million from contract research grants, livestock association check-offs and private donations.

“VIDO is a national livestock research facility and the work we do will benefit all Canadians,” he said. “That’s the reason we’re asking for support from all levels of government.”

“If the livestock associations give us their backing, we can get some of our funding from governments,” he pointed out. “But first governments want to see moral and financial support from the producers.”

Dr. Bigland suggested that livestock producers could obtain more detailed information about VIDO by contacting him at the VIDO trailers in care of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

“VIDO represents a practical, down-to-earth way t beat the common infectious diseases that have cost our livestock producers so much money for so many years,” he concluded.

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