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Paige Rockett

Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
Office: ANNU 128

Paige Rockett is a graduate student currently studying dairy cattle breeding and genetics. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology from the University of Guelph in 2016. Paige returned to the University of Guelph in 2018 and is now a Master of Science by thesis student working with Dr. Flavio Schenkel. Her thesis project is investigating how to breed for heat tolerance in dairy cattle.

Heat stress is a prominent issue in dairy cattle causing a large array of negative effects on welfare and productivity [1][2]. Dairy cattle are very sensitive to large environmental heat loads due to their high metabolic rate associated with milk production and rumen fermentation [3]. Furthermore, ambient temperatures and humidity may be amplified in the future due to climate change [4]. Paige is trying to use a model-free approach to determine the effects of environmental variables on milk yield variation. Subsequently, she hopes to identify dairy cows that are more tolerant to high environmental heat loads. This project will hopefully contribute to current breeding programs which are increasingly more focused on breeding for robustness. Robust animals are less dependent on intensive rearing conditions and are less sensitive to environmental perturbations.

Paige is also a member of the Centre of Genetic Improvement of Livestock (CGIL) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA). As a member of CGIL, she assists in ongoing genetic projects in the department. For instance, Paige has been assisting with the methane output measurements from dairy cattle at the Elora Research barn as part of the efficient dairy genome project. She is also responsible for being a point of communication between the department and the wider graduate student community as one of the general directors for the Animal Biosciences department on the GSA. Outside of school, Paige enjoys snowboarding, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She is looking forward to learning more about animal breeding and genetics as well as contributing to the improvement of animal welfare and productivity through genetic selection and genomics.

  1. Nardone, A., B. Ronchi, N. Lacetera, M.S. Ranieri, and U. Bernabucci. 2010. Effects of climate changes on animal production and sustainability of livestock systems. Livest. Sci. 130:57–69. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2010.02.011.
  2. St-Pierre, N.R., B. Cobanov, and G. Schnitkey. 2010. Economic Losses from Heat Stress by US Livestock Industries. J. Dairy Sci.. doi:10.3168/jds.s0022-0302(03)74040-5.
  3. Das, R., L. Sailo, N. Verma, P. Bharti, J. Saikia, Imtiwati, and R. Kumar. 2016. Impact of heat stress on health and performance of dairy animals: A review. Vet. World 9:260–268. doi:10.14202/vetworld.2016.260-268.
  4. Romero-Lankao, P., J.B. Smith, D.J. Davidson, N.S. Diffenbaugh, P.L. Kinney, P. Kirshen, P. Kovacs and L.V. Ruiz. 2014. North America. Pages 149-1498 in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. V.R. Barros, C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White, ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.