Livestock Production and Welfare Group

Translating animal and environmental data to system health
The Livestock Production and Welfare Group at the University of Sydney partners with industry to simultaneously improve animal production, welfare and system health.

Our expertise

Our research focuses on the behavioural and metabolic response of livestock when subjected to adverse welfare conditions, and how this can 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. Each of these significant elements constitutes a programme of research in the Livestock Production and Welfare Group. By addressing these factors, we provide welfare solutions for industry while also improving farm productivity.

Our expertise includes:

  • Data science and biometrics
  • Animal behaviour and welfare science
  • Pain amelioration and wound treatment in livestock
  • Heat stress amelioration in livestock

Current projects

Through novel pain mitigation and wound management strategies we improve the welfare and production of sheep and cattle that are subject to invasive husbandry procedures such as dehorning and castration.

In addition, signatures of animal stress are being developed based on behavioural states derived from accelerometers attached to animals.

As our environment warms, new systems and resilient animals are required to maintain animal performance and health. Our group is working with the University of Queensland to provide practical options for the Australian livestock industry to reduce heat stress in livestock.

We are developing a Paddock Productivity Database integrating data from in-field livestock weighing systems (Optiweigh), remote pasture measurement (CiboLabs) and environmental data (soils, pastures, climate) (MLA funded program “Data driven system optimising the forage base for sustainable beef production”).

This system will inform best practice grazing management to optimise the use of the feedbase and enable better forecasting for feed gaps and drought. We are partnering with the NSW government (Local Land Services North West) to delivery outcomes to producers and evaluate the impact on commercial farms in NSW.

On a larger-scale, we are looking at climate variables (rain, temperature etc.) on animal growth across the major agro-ecological zones of Australia.

We are working with the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council to increase animal protein supply.

This programme is increasing the nutritive value of Napier Grass offered to native cattle breeds (Red Chittagong cattle) by optimising the timing and degree of defoliation.

Here we investigate the impact of rumen temperature and the rumen microbiome in collaboration with The University of Queensland (Dr Angela Lees) and Lincoln University (Prof Pablo Gregorini). 

Our people

Our collaborators

Industry partnerships

PhD students

Topic: Revealing and exploiting the diversity in dairy cattle reticulorumen temperature data for heat stress amelioration

Alice is a University of Sydney Animal and Veterinary Bioscience graduate with a particular interest in large animal production.

She has a strong passion for animal health and welfare, spending a significant portion of her time in the country working with livestock.

Alice's passion for research was solidified during her 2021 honours year - her project focused on detecting fly associated behaviours using an ear-mounted accelerometer in beef cattle.

Her PhD work will focus on determining individual animal variability to heat stress with an aim to provide new phenotypes for genetic selection.

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Topic: Application of integrated sensor-based approaches and animals behavior to improve ruminant resilience to heat

Climate change threatens sustainable livestock production in many parts of the world.

Faysal's research project will validate large-scale machine learning techniques and issues concerning the sensitivity of conventional sensor-based methodologies.It also develops specific sensor-based technologies to improve livestock productivity and animal welfare.

The successful development of sensor-based technologies will enable new traits for genetic selection and earlier intervention to minimize heat stress.

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Topic: Innovative delivery of pain mitigation in routine animal husbandry and veterinary practice.

Lee completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours, and a Master of Science Management at the University of Newcastle, and has spent the last 16 years working in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry in the areas of clinical research, regulatory affairs, research and development, and quality assurance.

Her particular interest is in pain relief, and her research is focussing on the mitigation of longer term pain in animals after routine husbandry procedures such as castration, tail docking, mulesing dehorning/disbudding, and spaying.

Current available medications provide relief from pain for hours to a day only, whereas it is known that the pain from these procedures can last for several days to weeks.

This PhD project involves the formulation and development of a new injectable formulation that will provide longer lasting pain relief for livestock and companion animals post routine surgery.  

Topic: Improve the welfare and production of dairy cattle using sensor-derived data

After graduating with a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience, First Class Honours in 2019, Maddi undertook a 9-month dairy internship at the Agricultural Research Institute in Cyprus.

Since her return at the end of 2020, she has worked on the Herd Team at Moxey Farms in Gooloogong, NSW surrounded by 8000 cows and loved it.

Maddi will be working to improve the welfare and production of dairy cattle using sensor-derived data.

Topic: Novel wound treatment strategies for dehorning of cattle

Samantha graduated from the University of Sydney with a bachelor’s degree in animal and veterinary bioscience. She completed her honours project on the administration of meloxicam to surgically castrated bull calves via medicated lick blocks.

Samantha has grown up working on her parent’s property in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, with sheep, cattle, hay production, and cropping enterprises. Growing up in the industry, Samantha has a keen interest in livestock production, specifically, improving production by reducing/preventing trauma caused by husbandry procedures.

Her PhD work will focus on ameliorating the major complications of dehorning wounds, haemorrhage and infection, and consequentially morbidity and mortality. She will be evaluating different novel and existing wound treatments and their ability to address these complications and possibly improve wound healing to reduce production loss.

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Topic: Impact of rumen temperature on microbiome

Shaheen completed a Bachelor of Science in Animal Husbandry and a Master of Science in Animal Nutrition from Bangladesh Agricultural University.

He is doing his PhD research on the Impact of rumen temperature on the microbiome. In his research, Shaheen will replicate the drinking model in the in-vitro system to explore the effect of drinking on rumen temperature and how it impacts microbial population, fermentation pattern and gas production.

He will relate his in-vitro findings to residual feed intake and heat tolerance. He is collaborating with the University of Queensland and Lincoln University, New Zealand.

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Education and training

The Livestock Welfare Group contributes to livestock and animal welfare education through undergraduate teaching and support for postgraduate research students seeking specialist training in this field.

We offer internships to anyone from educational organisations working in animal science and veterinary science. And we provide community outreach through presentations to visiting school groups.

Awards and achievements

  • Alice Shirley 3MT thesis competition (University final runner up)
  • Alice Shirley Best Presenter Dairy Research Foundation Symposium
  • Shaheen Ramen Faculty Science Showcase


For information about opportunities to study or collaborate with us, please contact A/Prof Cameron Clark at

Cameron Clark

Associate Professor in Livestock Production and Welfare
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