Our particular interest is the behavioural and metabolic response of livestock when subjected to adverse welfare events and how these may be used to monitor animal welfare. Hunger, heat stress, predation, animal handling and the complex interactions between livestock are all elements contributing to reduced animal welfare, and each constitutes a programme of research in the group. By addressing these elements, we provide welfare solutions for industry whilst also improving farm productivity.
The Livestock Welfare Group collaborates with several industry partners and researchers both within Australia and overseas.
My undergraduate project conducted at the University of Kentucky, USA focused on calving behaviour of dairy cattle. Through this study, I became fascinated with understanding cattle behaviour from an individual and herd perspective.
Applying this background, my PhD aims to challenge common practice of both the dairy and beef industries to optomise weaning of calves using behaviour, production, technology and biological markers.
My PhD project is entitled ‘Monitoring and mitigating heat stress in cattle’.
The observable elevation in temperature and the frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change has increased the interest in heat stress effects on livestock productivity and welfare. Estimates of environmental heat stress are required for heat stress relief measures in cattle. The thermal stress indices have been in use for years but unable to represent individual animal responses on real time basis. Cattle’s responses to environmental heat stress vary based on animal factors and individuality that necessitate real time monitoring of individual cattle. Therefore, my research primarily focuses on validation of a sensor based real time heat stress monitoring method for individual cattle. Once the method is validated, nutritional mitigation strategy for heat stress will be applied to susceptible animals isolated by using the validated method.
In addition, the Livestock Welfare Group contributes to training in this important area, through contributions to undergraduate teaching through to support for higher degree research (postgraduate) students seeking specialist training in this field. It also provides community outreach by presentations to school groups etc.
For information about opportunities to study or collaborate with us, please contact A/Prof Cameron Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org