Canadian Animal Genetic Resources

Canadian Animal Genetic Resources (CAGR) is a joint initiative of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), to preserve the genetic diversity of Canadian livestock and poultry breeds, and to develop new techniques to conserve germplasm.


To ensure the genetic diversity of Canadian livestock and poultry, support environmentally friendly livestock and poultry production, and maintain food security, by acquiring, evaluating, and cryopreseving tissue and germplasm (sperm cells and embryos).

Key Mandates

  • Acquire, maintain, and distribute genetic resources.
  • Characterize, evaluate, and analyze genetic diversity
  • Develop indicators of change in domestic animal genetic diversity.
  • Perform research on biology of gametes and embryos.
  • Develop new techniques for conservation of genetic resources.

Program Delivery

  • Promotion: CAGR promotes animal and poultry genetic resource conservation and integrates Canadian conservation activities with those at the global level, in particular with the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, led by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Germplasm and Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) Preservation: CAGR cryopreserves semen, ova, embryos (germplasm), and DNA of domestic livestock and poultry to estimate genetic diversity and to allow conservation if needed. "For conserving valuable Canadian poultry genetics, CAGR is using vitrification, a new tissue preservation technique". CAGR can receive frozen germplasm or members of the CAGR group can visit a farm to collect Canadian animal resources.
  • Research: Research efforts focus on developing capacity and strategy for conservation of animal and poultry genetic resources. CAGR also works to improve current methods and develop new techniques for the conservation of all domestic livestock species. Tissue/feathers/hairs donated to CAGR may be used to extract DNA for use in genetic diversity studies and to develop methods to help identify breeds.
  • Data Management: The CAGR is currently being finalized a database that will contain physical and phenotypic data corresponding germplasm maintained at the center. It will be connected to an international animal genetic resource database (Canada-Brazil, USA), including links to breed registries, participating industry representatives, producer groups and cooperating farm animal conservation initiatives.
  • Industry Liaison and Education: Co-operation, collaboration, and donations are required to preserve animal and poultry genetic resources. CAGR collaborates with the Canadian livestock and poultry industries, Provincial and Federal governments, and international stakeholders to study and conserve domestic livestock and poultry genetic resources. Education and training of highly qualified young Canadian scientists are central to and students and visiting scientists are welcome.

CAGR relies on donations of germplasm and DNA from the livestock and poultry industries, veterinarians, animal breeders and producers, as well as Canadian universities and conservation agencies. If you wish to participate and contribute to the conservation of Canada’s animal genetic resources, please do not hesitate to contact, Dr. Carl Lessard, (306) 956-7221, or email: Your support is important and appreciated. Without your support, it will not be possible to preserve our precious Canadian animal resources. Looking forward to hear from you!

Contact Information

Dr. Carl Lessard,
Curator of Canadian Animal Genetic Resources
National Coordinator of Animal Genetic Resources of Canada
Telephone: 1-306-956-7221

Dr. Anissa Lybaert,
Associate Director of Biodiversity and Collections
Telephone: 1-613-759-1253
TDD/TTY: 613-773-2600

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