The Cowlife crew sent a large deligate to the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) 2018 annual meeting, with six members of our team (plus three friends of our team) having attended this year. ADSA is one of the most comprehensive dairy science meetings in the world spanning a range of topics such as behavior and welfare, reproduction, genetics, lactation biology, production and management, and even processing! Even small ruminants, an area of research the Cowlife lab will soon be expanding into, were represented! The conference is attended by over 1900 people from over 50 countries including industry representatives, memebers of the scientific community, and students, providing a stimulating environment for the exchange of new and current research findings and ideas in the field of dairy science. Despite the rain, the heat and the hair-expanding humidity of Knoxville, Tennessee, we enjoyed a great week exploring the city and learning new things at the conference!
MSc Candidate Jessica St John also presented the main findings of her research project entitled “The effect tie-rail placements have on neck injuries and lying and rising ability of tie-stall housed dairy cows”. Her findings concluded that no one position eliminated neck injuries entirely and that alternatives which are currently available (e.g. chains, flexible bars) are an area of interest for future research.
MSc Candidate Veronique Boyer’s poster presentation, entitled “Would cows benefit from “King-size” beds?” presented her research project carried out in collaboration with MSc candidate Erika Edwards, from University of Tennessee. The project is introduced in an earlier blog post entitled “Double the width, double the welfare?”
Dr Elsa Vasseur presented work by post-doc Daniel Warner looking at a innovative method for indexing cow comfort and welfare on dairy farms, using routinely-collected information such as milk components. This method will be a useful, easy to understand tool for producers to compare their own welfare performance against the average farms in Quebec, and to see how changes they make improve the status of their farm.
Post-doc Maxime Leduc introduced the audience to the applicability of machine-learning as a possible tool for improving welfare in the dairy industry. This project was carried out in collaboration with the department of Agricultural Engineering of McGill University, and led by MSc candidates Amanda Botswain Jacques. The study looked at using an algorithm to train a computer to identify and follow the progression of injuries over time from pictures collected on farm. While there is still more to do for this research, the preliminary findings show that the concept has potential. Keep an eye on the blog for more information in the future!