Position/Title: PhD Candidate
Office: ANNU 128
I am a Ph.D. candidate advised by Dr. Vern Osborne, studying dairy cow housing and behaviour.
I completed my B.Sc. in Animal Biology (2015) at the University of Guelph. After studying how dairy cows spend their time (time budgets) in tie-stall vs. free-stall housing systems for a fourth-year research project with Dr. Ian Duncan and Dr. Vern Osborne, I became interested in the impact of housing systems on behaviour. Following my undergraduate degree, I worked for nine months as a research assistant under the supervision of Dr. Filippo Miglior and Dr. Vern Osborne in the initial stages of the Efficient Dairy Genome Project at the Elora Dairy Research centre. Part of my work included, researching methods of measuring methane emissions from cattle, and helping with planning and data collection. I then began a M.Sc. focusing on a novel stall design for dairy cows, and later transferred to a Ph.D. to continue with the project.
My thesis work focuses on designing and developing of a novel stall for dairy cows, which aims to improve cow comfort and microclimate in the lying area. Dairy cows ideally spend over half of their day lying down, thus providing a comfortable lying area is important for production, health and welfare. Our project is in collaboration with industry partner, Promat. Specifically, we address four main aspects of the cows’ lying area:
- Stall slope – increased the longitudinal slope of the stall to encourage cow positioning in the stall and improve cleanliness.
- Novel partitions – replaced standard stall partitions (dividers) with a minimal partitioning design to reduce restriction on lying and standing behaviour.
- Supplemental cooling – developed and tested an air delivery system to provide cooled air to the cow when lying down.
- Supplemental lighting – incorporated LED lights into the stall partitioning to provide controlled lighting to cows when lying down.
We found increasing the stall slope marginally affected lying time, but did not affect cow cleanliness or preference. Further development and testing of the prototypes are required.