ADSA 2021 - What a blast!!

This blogpost was written by Gabriel M. Dallago

Hello there, friends of CowLife McGill. We are now midway through the summer here in Montreal, Canada. This is not only the time for frequent heatwaves but also the season for conferences! In our previous post, you saw the poster presentation given by Amir at the ISAE 2021 about his MSc project. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

The CowLife team was also well-represented at the ADSA 2021 Annual Meeting, held virtually this year, and, boy, what a great time we had! For starters, Stephanie Bélanger-Naud presented her research findings on the effect of the weaning age of goats on their growth and behaviour. This study was part of her MSc, which she concluded very recently here at CowLife McGill lab, in which it was found that weaning kids at 6 weeks of age compared with moderate and late weaning was associated with a higher stress level for the animals. You can see her presentation in the video below:

Next, Elise Shepley, the first Ph.D. graduate from CowLife McGill, presented the results of a study evaluating the effect of the first incidence of mastitis or lameness on economic indicators of multiparous cows. This study was a portion of the work conducted by Maria Puerto, another fellow CowLife alum, during the course of her MSc, and serves as a follow-up to the work Maria did on the same topic in primiparous cows. In line with the previous findings for primiparous cows, the work presented by Elise found that both lameness and mastitis had negative impacts on cow performance and productivity, regardless of when in the cow’s life it occurs. The body of work by Maria and Elise highlights the importance of considering the full economic cost of a disease when making culling decisions. The presentation of the study is available in the video below:

I was not left out of the party and, this year, I presented two studies from my Ph.D. In the first study, we evaluated the effect of birth conditions on Holstein offspring longevity. This is important, as most studies of dairy cow longevity usually begin only after first calving and very few studies focus on early-life conditions and their effect on longevity. We found that birth condition greatly affects the ability of offspring to remain in the herd. You can watch my presentation in the video below:

For the second study, we were interested in describing the welfare status of Quebec dairy herds based on welfare outcome measures and in evaluating the relationship between welfare status and production and performance indicators. For this purpose, we used an artificial neural network model to map the welfare of the farms and create groups with similar profiles. Later, we compared production and performance between profiles. Here, we found groups of herds with different welfare statuses and that a good welfare status was associated with better performance and economic metrics. You can watch the full presentation in the video below:

I was also selected as one of the top 10 students to participate in the 3 Minute Thesis Competition. What a challenge! I can tell you that summarizing the entire content of an ongoing Ph.D. Thesis in just 3 minutes and using just one slide is not an easy task!

Slide used in the 3 Minute Thesis Competition at ADSA 2021

Not only that, but the competition was also live, which was a big change compared to pre-recorded presentations/competitions we’ve gotten used to during this pandemic. I tried my best and I was so very honoured to have won not only Second Place but also People's Choice 🥳🥳 The competition was recorded and you can find my presentation accessing this link.

ADSA 2021 was great and we were very happy to contribute to advance of Dairy Science Research. I am afraid conferencing season 2021 is coming to an end, but we definitely closed it with a blast!