2014 Research Opportunities - PRODUCTION

Quail Studies

Project Synopsis
Quail have been commercially produced in Australia for 30 to 40 years. Current production levels are around 100,000 birds (18-19 tonne) per week. Product is predominantly sold as whole birds with 50– 60 % going into the domestic Asian retail market.

There is no relevant research data available for nutritional, incubation, production performance of genetic lines and heat stress management under Australian conditions. The project will work with a local integrator to develop growth models for current genotypes and identify the nutrient specifications needed for maximum growth efficiency. The industry has a significant constraint, with birds reaching sexual maturity before they reach ideal market weight. Quail are grown under 24 h light regimes and the potential of other lighting regimes to limit sexual maturation but allow birds to reach a heavier market weight needs investigating. With hatchability at 70% there is a clear need to identify the most appropriate incubation conditions, if the 30% loss is to be reduced. Quail are grown out in traditional housing with limited environmental control and there is a need to identify strategies that can assist with management during periods of heat stress. Heat stress is a welfare concern for all poultry.

R&D Objectives
The project will work in collaboration with industry partners develop:

1.Accurate guidelines for, models of growth, nutritional requirements, feed and water intake, feed efficiency and carcass composition of the current genetic lines used in commercial quail production. Currently, diets are formulated to specifications that have not been tested as optimal in controlled research studies.

2.Investigate the incubation conditions most suited to achieving high hatchability rates and so reduced the current 30% loss during incubation.

3.Investigate light management regimes that prevent sexual maturity but at the same time allow for maximum growth rate and weight at slaughter.

4.Improve bird welfare and growth during periods of high ambient temperature by investigating nutritional strategies that can help alleviate heat stress.

The project is seeking a post graduate student to undertake a PhD with the Poultry Research Unit of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney.

Further Information:
The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $25,392 p.a. (2014 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

Supervisor:
Dr Jeff Downing

Understanding the physical and chemical factors which enable sperm to pass through the cervix

Project Synopsis
Ruminant sperm are deposited in the anterior vagina and must traverse the torturous, mucus filled cervix to fertilise the oocyte. The ability of sperm to perform this task is dramatically reduced if sperm are stored in a frozen or liquid state prior to cervical insemination. One hypothesis for this is that freezing interferes with the interaction of sperm with the female tract but biophysical and biochemical study of sperm-mucus or sperm-cervical interaction is limited. The aim of this project is to combine analysis of sperm function and fertility with biochemical and biophysical analysis of cervical mucus properties and sperm membranes to delineate factors which enable sperm to pass the cervix. In the latter stage of the PhD program this information will be used to develop novel and practical solutions which improve fertility following cervical insemination of frozen-thawed ram sperm. The project will be conducted in conjunction with collaborators at INRA (Tours, France) and a PhD stipend and project costs will be provided subject to contract agreement with the funding agency.

Further Information:-
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in the life sciences (e.g. biology, biochemistry, animal science), have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree) and excellent communication skills. Experience in biochemistry and proteomics is highly desirable. Applicants must be Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents.

Eligibility:-
A PhD stipend will be provided to successful applicant (APA equivalent rate) and commence in Semester 1, 2014. Further information can be obtained from Dr Simon de Graaf. Applications should be sent direct to and should include a curriculum vitae, a copy of an academic transcript, and the names and contact details of at least two referees



Characterisation of oxidative stress biomarkers in exhaled breath condensate

Exhaled breath (EB) is the product of alveolar gas exchange and airway water loss, and it contains a variety of potential biomarkers originating from inflammatory reactions in the airway mucosa. Because the method of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) collection is completely non-invasive, repeatable and does not require patient cooperation, EBC analysis is increasingly used in human medicine. The detection of OS biomarkers in EB and EBC is a new field of research in veterinary medicine with the potential to provide early identification of pathologies. Early detection of ‘at risk’ animal and clarity of understanding of the relevance and significance of OS in respiratory diseases may enable the implementation of strategic measures to reduce risk of livestock developing diseases. The exact physiological origin of OS biomarkers such as H2O2, and nitric oxide has not been clearly established in farm animals; the effects of changes in respiratory rate on the concentration of exhaled compounds in livestock are unknown, and for most of the markers there are no reference ranges available for healthy or diseased animals. The study of OS biomarkers in EB and EBC will facilitate the development of methods for dealing with issues in livestock medicine that are not adequately addressed using currently available technologies

Further Information:-

The PhD candidate will be expected to undertake part of his/her research work overseas in collaboration with Prof Gabai (University of Padova, Italy).

Supervisor:-
Dr Pietro Celi
Email:pietro.celi@sydney.edu.au


Associations between stress, egg quality and other welfare measures in laying hens maintained in different housing systems

Our group has developed a non-invasive means of measuring the extent of stress experienced by laying hens. This is done by measuring corticosterone concentrations in egg albumen. In recent work the concentrations of corticosterone in albumen was determined in eggs collected from different housing systems. Early in the production cycle there were found to be differences between farms, with flocks showing distinct patterns of stress during this time. These early differences were linked to differences in egg production and mortality rate with production decreased and mortality increased when the corticosterone concentrations increased. The project objectives are to evaluate the link between stress in laying hens and other welfare measures but also to determine if there are effects on egg quality.

Further Information:
The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $25,392 p.a. (2014 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

Supervisor:
Dr Jeff Downing

Students would be encouraged to apply for a Poultry CRC scholarship.


Nutrient distribution on farms with Automatic Milking Systems (AMS)

Opportunity exists for a student project to investigate the impact of AMS and more specifically voluntary cow traffic on the distribution of nutrients within the farm system. Effluent deposited on laneways is of concern since it cannot be captured, stored and distributed on paddocks and it can pose environmental management challenges. With an AMS the cows voluntarily traffic around the farm system. To date there has been no known work conducted on the impact of this voluntary traffic on nutrient distribution. It is possible that the volume of effluent deposited on laneways is reduced since the cows are not being herded to the dairy as a group. On the other hand the volume may be increased as cows have the opportunity to loiter on laneways as they move through the system at ‘cow pace’.

Supervisor:
Dr Kendra Kerrisk
Co-supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture or veterinary science, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be willing to work with data analysis and undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.


Grazing of forage crops and different pasture species in automatic milking systems

This PhD project will investigate the interactions at the animal-plant interface when cows moving voluntarily in an automatic milking system are given access to grazable forage crops and different pasture species. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop grazing management guidelines for some key forage crops that may be used in AMS systems in Australia in different seasons. The project may involve direct collaboration with researchers at Michigan State University in USA and may require spending at least one Australian autumn-winter in USA.

Supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia
Co-supervisor: Dr Kendra Kerrisk
Dr Santiago Utsumi (Michigan State University)

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture or veterinary science, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be willing to work with data analysis and undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.


Using forage crops to enhance cow traffic in automatic milking systems

This PhD project will investigate the use of different forage crops to enhance cow traffic of cows moving voluntarily in automatic milking systems (AMS). The successful candidate will develop a program to understand the interactions between time of the day and distance to the paddocks for different grazable forage options across all 4 seasons.

Supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia
Co-supervisor:
Dr Kendra Kerrisk

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture or veterinary science, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be willing to work with data analysis and undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year. A possibility exists for outstanding Australian or NZ candidates to apply for a FutureDairy scholarship (AU$30,000).


Dynamic simulation of cow traffic in Automatic Milking Systems

This PhD project will develop a dynamic model capable of representing the basic aspects of cow traffic system in a pasture-based automatic milking system (AMS). The successful candidate will work with dynamic simulation platforms to develop an ad hoc model and/or investigate the potential adaptation of existing models.

Supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia
Co-supervisor:
A/Prof. Kendra Kerrisk

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture, veterinary or IT/computer science, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be willing to work with simulation modelling but also undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

For international applicants, the student must have a scholarship which covers full tuition fees and a living allowance. In addition, a ‘top-up’ of the living allowance may be negotiated with the successful student. Further information can be found at International Students


The use of n-alkanes and other internal markers to estimate intake of dairy cows fed complex mixes of pasture and forage diets

Plant wax markers can be used to estimate pasture/forage intake and diet composition based on the faecal recovery of these markers. This PhD project will develop techniques to better estimate actual faecal recovery of n-alkanes and other long-chain carbon compounds in cows fed complex diets comprised of pasture and forage crops and grains. The project will be largely based on analytical procedures related to the n-alkane technique, although controlled studies will be carried out to test different techniques/hypothesis.

Supervisor:
Dr Ravneet Kaur Jhajj -
Co Supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture, veterinary or chemistry, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be prepared to work in a laboratory but also undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

For international applicants, the student must have a scholarship which covers full tuition fees and a living allowance. In addition, a ‘top-up’ of the living allowance may be negotiated with the successful student. Further information can be found at International Students


Application of NIR in the nutritive evaluation of dairy cow diets

Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) analysis is commonly used to determine nutritive value of feed-stuffs in recent years. Commercially, it is important that farmers on individual farms have accurate and reliable results. This project will develop techniques to improve the application of NIR systems to assess the nutritive value of dairy cow diets. The project is laboratory based.

Supervisor:
Dr Ajantha Horadagoda -
Co-supervisor: Dr Ravneet Kaur Jhajj - / A.Prof Yani Garcia

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture, veterinary or chemistry, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be prepared to work in a laboratory but also undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

For international applicants, the student must have a scholarship which covers full tuition fees and a living allowance. In addition, a ‘top-up’ of the living allowance may be negotiated with the successful student. Further information can be found at International Students


Carbon sequestration of high yielding complementary forage rotations (CFR)

This PhD project will investigate aspects of carbon sequestration and carbon balance in high yielding CFR systems. The CFR comprise double or triple crop rotations capable of producing over 40 t DM/ha per year.

Supervisor:
Dr Rafiq Islam
Co-supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture, veterinary or chemistry, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be prepared to work in a laboratory but also undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

For international applicants, the student must have a scholarship which covers full tuition fees and a living allowance. In addition, a ‘top-up’ of the living allowance may be negotiated with the successful student. Further information can be found at International Students


Improvement of nutritive value of maize silage for dairy cows

Maize silage is a major component of complementary forage rotation (CFR) system which yielded over 25 t DM/ha out of a total of 40 t DM/ha from CFR. This PhD project will investigate aspects of improving nutritive value particularly metabolizable energy content of maize silage without compromising yield of maize.

Supervisor:
Dr Rafiq Islam
Co-supervisor:
A/Prof Sergio (Yani) Garcia

Further Information:
The successful candidate must have completed an undergraduate degree in agriculture, veterinary or chemistry, have research experience (Honours or Master’s degree), good analytical and communication skills, and be prepared to work in a laboratory but also undertake field studies.

The successful applicant will be encouraged to apply for and be awarded a scholarship (stipend) for example, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Australian and New Zealand residents. Full-time award holders receive a stipend of $24,653 p.a. (2013 rate) which is currently exempt from taxation. The stipend rate is indexed on the anniversary of the commencement date of the award. Scholarships.
Applications for APAs close around October 31st (for semester 1) and June 11th (for semester 2) each year.

For international applicants, the student must have a scholarship which covers full tuition fees and a living allowance. In addition, a ‘top-up’ of the living allowance may be negotiated with the successful student. Further information can be found at International Students