M.Sc. by thesis student
I graduated from the University of Guelph with a BSc in Animal Biology in April 2016. My interest in dairy health began during a co-op placement in high school and flourished throughout my undergraduate program. I took every dairy class offered and participated in the College Royal dairy show. My desire to further my knowledge of dairy health, management, and welfare encouraged me to pursue an MSc thesis with Drs. Renee Bergeron and Simon Lachance.
My research focuses on feeding birdsfoot trefoil, a type of legume forage containing condensed tannins, to dairy heifers, in order to combat gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infection in a natural way. Organic farms have regulations that require pasturing of animals along with restrictions on the use of synthetic anthelmintics (dewormers), both of which amplify GIN infections. GIN infections have negative health implications for all ages of cattle. Research has shown that birdsfoot trefoil can prevent GIN infection in grazing heifers, but its effect on highly infected heifers has not been determined. I have worked with the dairy herd at the Ridgetown Campus Dairy Centre for the past two summers. My project required that we rear GIN in cultures in the lab to use to infect our heifers before feeding the treatment diets. Once the heifers were shedding GIN eggs we fed the treatment diets of alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, or grass hay, twice a day for 45 minutes, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Throughout the trial manure samples were taken to do fecal egg counts (FEC) to monitor the GIN infection level of each animal, by counting the number of GIN eggs in manure under a microscope. Unfortunately, my results have shown no significant differences in the FEC of the heifers between the different diets. The next step will be to look at the use of birdsfoot trefoil with different GIN species. My future goal is to work in the dairy industry with a focus on dairy herd health.
Outside of my academic career, I enjoy riding my horse, Roscoe, and taking my Labrador Retriever, Lucy, for long hikes.