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  • Dr Lauren Hemsworth receives ABARES 2016 Sci and Innovation Award

    Dr Lauren Hemsworth receives ABARES 2016 Sci and Innovation Award

    Congratulations, Lauren Hemsworth, recipient of the Australian Pork Limited Award at the 2016 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry which are coordinated by ABARES, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

    Lauren is harnessing one of the most well-known psychology experiments—Pavlov’s dog—to improve the welfare of lactating sows.

    The University of Melbourne research fellow is examining whether classical conditioning can be used to encourage lactating sows to eat more at a time when they often lose weight, making for healthier animals and avoiding costly reproductive problems down the track.

    “We commonly see that once the sows have farrowed and they’re in lactation, that regardless of how much feed is provided we just can’t get feed intakes up,” Lauren says.

    “Often we find that the feed intakes of sows are lower than what they physically require to be able to sustain lactation and growth.

    “There’s been a range of different practices that have been put in place to try and increase these feed intakes and it just isn’t happening so we need to try and look at something a little bit out of the box."

    In Pavlov’s famous experiments, the Russian scientist rang a bell every time he fed his dog. After he repeated the procedure number of times, the dog began to salivate when the bell rang even in the absence of food, in what is called a learned or conditioned response.

    Lauren says previous research had shown that a learned cue such as a buzzer can be used to initiate feeding bouts and increase feed intake in sated rats.

    “We thought that this is something that we could apply in lactating sows,” she says.

    The proof-of-concept study will initially use a mature gilt as a model for lactating animals. “It’s a little bit different but if it can work, the potential for use within the production system is great,” Lauren says.

    Increasing feed intake in sows during lactation is likely to improve piglet performance and consequently, a producer’s production costs may be reduced and profitability increased, Lauren concludes.

    Read about all the recipients at this link http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/Documents/science-awards/science-awards-booklet-2016.pdf


  • Public Seminar - Jo Edgar

    Public Seminar - Jo Edgar


    Jo Edgar ,The University of Bristol

    Empathy in animals - Seminar page





  • AWSC External Review

    AWSC External Review

    The AWSC  commissioned an external review of its performance for the period 2010-2014

    The Review Panel was Chaired by Dr. Graham Mitchell and comprised David Adams, Mary Barton, Glenys Oogjes, Jim Rothwell, Alice Skipper, Kevin Stafford and Sharon Starick.

    A copy of their report can be downloaded HERE

  • Scientific commentary: animal abuse and cruelty in livestock production
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