RESEARCH into dairy cow immunology and disease resistance during calving has won a Murdoch University lecturer international recognition.
Dr Joshua Aleri, who lectures on cattle health and medicine at Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, flew to Sapporo, Japan, last month to accept the Ruminant Well-being Research Award.
It was presented to Dr Aleri at the biannual World Buiatrics Association Congress – the biggest scientific gathering for cattle scientists and veterinarians.
The award acknowledges a PhD graduate who is working to significantly improve the industry’s understanding of ruminant well-being.
Dr Aleri’s research involved developing and testing scientific methods to improve the health and welfare of dairy cattle during their 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.”
In developing the technique Dr Aleri worked with colleagues from CSIRO and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in Victoria and the ongoing research is the first of its 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.”
Dr Aleri said he was humbled to receive the award in front of his peers at the congress.
“It also gave me the opportunity to meet with many brilliant cattle scientists and veterinarians from all over the world and share on matters of cattle health and welfare,” he said.
Dr Aleri was one of two recipients of awards in the ruminant animals field at the congress.
It is the second international award he has won at a World Buiatrics Association Congress.
In 2014 when the congress was held in Cairns, Queensland, Dr Aleri – at that stage he was conducting dairy cow research as part of work for his doctorate – received the Gustav Rosenberger Memorial award for research into bovine health.
In 2016 he received the Victorian Farmers Research Award as the best graduate research student in ruminant research.