M.Sc. by thesis
I am an MSc. Student in Animal Behaviour and Welfare under Dr. Trevor DeVries’ supervision. My passion for agriculture was sparked at a young age, as I was raised on a dairy farm in Eastern Ontario. I completed my BSc. in Animal Sciences at Dalhousie University. During my studies, I had the opportunity to gain hands on experience in the industry by working as a summer research assistant at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute and as a student intern with Scothorn Nutrition. These experiences motivated me to dive deeper into the field of ruminant nutrition and feeding behaviour.
My research focuses on understanding the feeding behaviour and metabolic health of dairy cows around the transition period which is defined as the 3 weeks pre-calving to 3 weeks post-calving. Cows are extremely vulnerable to metabolic health disorders during this period, making it a challenging stage for producers. Controlling the energy and overall nutrient intake is a popular feeding strategy for the dry cow, this can be achieved by incorporating low nutrient dense ingredients, such as straw, into the dry cow TMR which allows the cow to eat as much as she wants without exceeding her energy requirements. One major problem with including straw in the diet is that it is perceived as a less palatable component and cows typically prefer to sort against it and in favour of the grain component. My research is focused on manipulating the physical characteristics, specifically the chop length (1 inch vs 4 inch length of straw) and moisture content of a controlled energy dry cow diet so that it more closely resembles the lactating cow diet. I am enrolling cows 6 weeks prior to their expected calving date and following them for 4 weeks after they calve. Over the 10 weeks, I am measuring feeding behaviour (which includes feed sorting and intake patterns), body condition score, body weights, rumination activity, various blood metabolites, and composition and fatty acid profiles of the milk. I hypothesize that a shorter chop length and increased moisture content will improve feed intake, reduce feed sorting, reduce body condition loss and improve metabolic health across the transition period. I am interested in this topic because I would like to determine cost effective strategies to improve the overall success of the transition period for the cow. My goal is to complete my MSc. program and work in the industry as a dairy nutrition consultant.
Outside of my studies I enjoy being active and exploring all the hidden gems Canada has to offer!