Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Animal Science

Animal Science

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home...

When pigs get sick, they are generally put in a hospital pen to recover. Some pigs don't recover, despite the farmers' best efforts, and need to be euthanized. Farmers may not be able to judge when a pig has reached this point. In this project, we want to identify physiological blood parameters that are linked to pig welfare. This will involve visiting farms, assessing the clinical state of pigs and collecting blood samples from pigs with a range of clinical states for submission to the lab for a panel of tests. The long-term goal is to develop pen-side tests that a farmer can use to help him or her monitor pigs' recovery, and assist with euthanasia decision-making.

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Hey mummy pig, I feel sick, sick, sick. Better call the doctor quick, quick quick

Trish & PigletWhen you have 10 siblings, often you miss out getting a spot at the "milk bar". This project seeks to identify why some piglets "fall away" at 4-7 days of age. We will use a video camera to record sucking events - and determine the role of feeding behaviour in causing these "fall back" pigs. This information will assist farmers to decide on how best to manage these little guys.

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Analysis of factors affecting expression of cryptochrome genes in chicken cell cultures

Cryptochrome is a protein involved in circadian (daily cycle) regulation of gene expression in mammals and birds. It expression is regulated by light and possibly magnetic field intensity. The project aims to look at mRNA levels of three cryptochrome transcripts using PCR. The project will involve tissue culture under various conditions, extraction of mRNA and PCR amplification and/or Northern blot analysis of cryptochrome genes.

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Use of two dimensional gel electrophoresis to detect sex-specific proteins in allantoic fluid from embryonated chicken eggs

In egg production euthanasia of day old male chicks is common since they are not required. There are negative ethical implications to this practice and improving welfare of chicks by removal of males at an earlier stage of development prior to hatching would be preferable. This would rely on accurate sexing of embryos in ovo . The project aims to identify male of female specific proteins present in the allantoic fluid of eggs. The project will involve protein gel electrophoresis of allantoic fluid samples and use of techniques for enrichment of rare proteins.

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The role of androgens in programming the growth of piglets

We are looking at the role of these hormones in programming the development of the growing pig. The project is funded by the Pork CRC.

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Effect of analgesics on pain behaviour in beak-trimmed chickens

Laying chickens are routinely beak-trimmed at day-old. There is concern that this practice may cause short and long term pain to chickens. Research in this area could investigate pain behaviour in chicks and develop best practice guidelines for beak-trimming.

Published Paper: 

Minor beak trimming in chickens leads to loss of mechanoreception and magnetoreception; R Freire, MA Eastwood and M Joyce, EH Graham Centre, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Charles Sturt University, 2010

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Misbehaviour and welfare of horses

This project aims to improve rider safety and horse welfare through the adoption of scientifically-validated management practices or natural horsemanship training which reduces the risk of dangerous misbehaviour in the horse.

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Spatial distribution and dispersal behaviour in sheep

Living in groups is widely considered to provide animals with benefits which outweigh the costs arising from increased competition for resources. In groups, grazing animals can be expected to alter movement and spatial distribution in order to minimise the effects of competition from other group members. However, experimental evidence showing the relationships between space, effects of resource distribution and social factors is scarce.

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Use of potato vines for silage

Work on this has previously been done in Pakistan with domestic potato varieties and it works very well. So, we would like to conduct further research in this area  with NSWDPI staff here in Wagga to see if it could be a viable option here and also develop further recommendations for improvements in Pakistan. In the experiment, we will first have to harvest the fresh potato vines and get the results for proximate analysis, glycoalkaloid levels as well as a few other measurements. If these results show that the potato vines grown in Australia are suitable for silage production we can then move to the second phase of the experiment where we will make the potato vine silage. The methodology is very much similar as making other crop silages. Initially we plan to run the experiment using small/medium quantities, then after 90 days we can check the ensiling process  and analyse the material as an animal feed. At the end of this experiment we will write a report on this product and establish its commercial viability for use in Australia and Pakistan. The project will be financed from our ACIAR funds.

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Key issues that influence the productivity of small-holder dairy farmers in Pakistan

 This may involve factors in influencing milk quality  coming from small-holder dairy farmers in Punjab state, it may be associated with  the development of milk marketing systems for  the milk leaving their farms or it may involve an investigation of the role of women on small-holder dairy farms.  Subject to the Dean???s approval the project would most likely involve a 3 week period in Pakistan in late January/early February 2010.

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Other research papers

Rumen fermentation and liveweight gain in beef cattle treated with monensin and grazing lush for forage; EL Packer, EH Clayton and PMV Cusack; School of Animal and Veterinary Science, Charles Sturt University, NSW Department of Primary Industries, EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and Australian Livestock Production Services, 2011

Sublinical mastitis and associated risk factors on dairy farms in New South Wales; K Plozza, JJ Lievaart, G Potts and HW Barkema; EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University and NSW DPI; 2011