Grant awarded for knowledge sharing in animal heat stress mitigation with India

Researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences will collaborate with India’s ICAR-National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology to host workshops on mitigation of heat stress in cattle, sheep, goat, and pigs.

The project, “Transfer of mitigation technologies for heat stress in farm animals,” was funded for $112,795 by the University of Melbourne and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the 2019 Australia-India Council Grant Round.

Dr Surinder Chauhan leads the project, with Professors Frank Dunshea, Brian Leury and Robyn Warner , and Dr Kristy DiGiacomo.

Dr Chauhan says the team aims to increase cooperation and long term bilateral strategic partnerships between the two countries through collaborative workshops where researchers, decision makers, and livestock industry work together for improved knowledge and innovative mitigation technologies reducing stress in farm animals.

“Australia and India face many of the same challenges from animal heat stress, particularly in the context of increasing frequency of heatwaves and a changing climate,” he said.

“Both nations will benefit from sharing our knowledge of heat stress mitigation, and as India continues to develop economically, it will only become a more important partner for us.

“We believe this project will help to build a strategic partnership between Indian and Australian research organisations and demonstrate Australian leadership in driving research and development to make a positive impact on Indian animal agriculture, which is one of the largest contributors to its rural economy.”

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The project team (L-R): Dr Surinder Chauhan, Professor Brian Leury, Dr Kristy DiGiacomo, Professor Frank Dunshea and Professor Robyn Warner. Photo: Stuart Winthrope.

Heat stress is one of the greatest challenges facing farm animal production. Recent increases in the frequency of heatwaves compromise animal welfare and performance during summer months, leading to devastating economic consequences to global animal agriculture.

Mitigation of heat stress in farm animals is critical for Australia and India to reduce the negative impacts on animal welfare and promoting sustainable food animal production under the changing climate conditions to achieve food security.

The team will hold workshops in Melbourne, Australia, and Bangaluru, India. The Melbourne workshop will provide an opportunity for collaborating Indian scientists to visit controlled climatic chamber animal facilities, which is expected to provide them hands-on training and technical details for establishing similar facilities at the ICAR-National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology (ICAR-NIANP), India.

The Bangaluru workshop is expected to share Australian excellence in farm animal production and grow the Indian audience’s awareness of the negative impacts of heat stress on animal growth and meat quality, and of innovative technologies for heat stress mitigation in farms animals.

Both activities will contribute to a strategic partnership between the University and ICAR-NIANP to work collaboratively, learn from each other’s experiences and develop a long-term knowledge and technology exchange partnership.

This partnership will enable both parties to better understand the impacts of climate change on animal production which is critical for developing innovative technologies to reduce the negative impacts of heat stress, promoting sustainable food animal production and food security.

Banner image: Sheep in dry, late summer conditions in northern Victoria. Photo: Daphane Ng.