Murdoch University lecturer in Cattle Health and Medicine, Dr Josh Aleri, has been recognised on the world stage for his groundbreaking research into improving the health and wellbeing of Australian dairy cows.
Dr Aleri recently flew to Sapporo, Japan, to accept the Ruminant Well-being Research Award as part of the bi-annual World Buiatrics Association congress—the largest scientific gathering for cattle scientists and veterinarians.
Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, the prestigious award acknowledges a recent PhD graduate who is working to significantly improve the industry’s ‘understanding of ruminant well-being’.
Dr Aleri’s award-winning research involved developing and testing scientific methods to improve the health and welfare of dairy cattle during the calving period.
“The calving period, also termed the ‘transition period’, is quite stressful at most dairy farms because of the high incidence of both infectious and metabolic diseases, which affects farm profitability and animal health and welfare,” Dr Aleri said.
“We developed a technique for measuring an animal’s overall immune performance as a single measure, and then later assessing the associations between its immune status and other health and performance parameters, such as stress responsiveness; growth rates; resistance to internal parasites; and milk quality.”
The methods developed by Dr Aleri and colleagues from CSIRO and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in Victoria were the first of their kind for Australia.
“More work needs to be done before we can implement this technology into breeding selection programs, for instance, looking at several other associations between immunity and health parameters,” Dr Aleri said.
“The culmination will be converting our field tests to a less tedious laboratory test using just a hair sample.”