A recent conference in Sydney pulled together industry professionals and veterinarians to re-discover topics of importance and unveil new technologies in the fields of cattle medicine and animal reproduction.
Hosted by Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) and Australian Reproductive Veterinarians (ARV) cattle industry professionals were invited to speak, including Agriculture Victoria and La Trobe University principal research scientist, Jennie Pryce.
Ms Pryce refreshed veterinarians’ knowledge on genomic selection, specifically the difference between calculating traditional breeding values using progeny testing and ancestor information, to genomic prediction using information from DNA.
Ms Pryce also introduced a current research project on MIR technology to manage disease in dairy cows. Funded through the Rural R& D For Profit program, Ms Pryce said a team was half-way through a three year research project which aims to form predictions of dairy cow disease susceptibility.
“Mid-infrared spectral data (MIR) is the technology which is currently used to quantify fat and protein percentages in routine herd testing and there’s research by ourselves and around the world to suggest that it can also be used to indicate a cows health,” she said.
“In particular susceptibility to ketosis or other health disorders - potentially there is a lot more to herd testing in the future if we can predict the phenotypes with proficient accuracy.
“We have come up with prediction equations that are based on the MIR data – the idea is that if you have a milk sample, you can use that information to come up with a prediction of whether a cow is going to be a negative or positive energy balance.”
Although still in the research phase, Ms Pryce believes this new technology is potentially a cheaper solution to the blood test method which is currently used as the gold standard diagnosis for ketosis.
“The technology will provide producers with a percentage of cows which are at risk of metabolic disease such ketosis – therefore they can modify management and feed protocol,” Ms Pryce said.
Industry invested in Oz Ag research
The strong investment into making research progress in the Australian agriculture industry is what attracted scientist Jennie Pryce to Australia from the United Kingdom.
Speaking at the recent cattle conference in Sydney, Ms Pryce said Australia has a very good track record of investing in agricultural research.
“It’s very appealing working in research in Australia,” she said.
“Making sure we have research that would underpin the future of the dairy industry is really important.”
Ms Pryce has also been given the opportunity to lead another research project, Dairybio, a joint venture by Dairy Australia and the Victorian Government.
“It’s a co-investment to develop and apply the latest bioscience to the two main drivers of dairy profitability – pastures and herd,”Ms Pryce said.
“Basically it’s an investment to make sure we have genetic tools to breed better cows in the future,” she said.