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Current Students


Katherine AshleyUniversity of Sydney PhD student

The socio-economic status of smallholder farmers in Cambodiakashley

Katherine is a PhD student from the University of Sydney investigating the socio-economic status of smallholder farmers in Cambodia that grow rice and raise livestock at a subsistence level. The aim of the research is to improve understanding of the financial status of rural households, in particularly household income and expenditure, and suggest changes that farmers can make to increase their household income and improve their standard of living. The research   aims to investigate the financial benefit of developing a forage plot and feeding forages to cattle compared to traditional practices of feeding rice straw and native grasses. This will provide evidence for farmers to make changes to their systems to provide better feed for their cattle, increase cattle weights and improve household income. Further research investigating the socio-economic benefit of improved village level biosecurity will also provide evidence for farmers to vaccinate their animals leading to improve animal health and improved income.

Luisa OlmoUniversity of Sydney PhD student lolmo

Investigating strategies to improve the reproductive efficiency of cattle and buffalo in smallholder farms in Cambodia and Laos

Luisa Olmo is one of our PhD students who has been working on our projects since 2015 when she started as an honours student investigating reproductive improvement in Cambodian cattle. Luisa’s key honours findings were that agrarian skills help farmers adapt to forage growing, that native cattle compared to Haryana have more calf births and using cattle for draught power reduces farm reproductivity. Luisa has since published baseline prevalence data on the reproductive pathogens; Neospora caninum, Bovine viral diarrhoea virus, Leptospira interrogans serovar Hardjo and Brucella sp. which are potentially related to abortions and calf deaths. Tracking and preventing these diseases will become increasingly important as animal trade and production continues to intensify in the region. Luisa has also been surveying emerging trends in the lowlands where some farmers are starting to experiment with cross breeding the native Laotian ‘yellow’ cattle with exotic breeds such as Brahmans and Charolaise. Luisa believes regular contact with farmers and building the research availability in the region is essential to enable development projects and governments to make evidence based decisions and to pave the way for local researchers.

Nichola Calvani University of Sydney PhD student nichola.jpg

The molecular diagnosis, prevalence and control of Fasciola spp. in smallholder large ruminant systems in Cambodia and Laos

Nichola is a mid-candidature PhD student working on the molecular diagnosis, prevalence and control of the common liver fluke (Fasciola spp.) in smallholder large ruminant systems in Cambodia and Laos. The liver fluke can cause significant production losses through poor productivity and sudden death. Additionally, while the parasite most commonly infects ruminants, spread to other species, including people is reported worldwide.

Nichola first came on board during her honours year as an Animal and Veterinary Bioscience undergraduate where she was conducting a case study into the prevalence of liver fluke infection in selected cattle in several Cambodian provinces. This work highlighted the potential for external feed sources to act as vectors spreading the parasite.

She has spent the last 18 months working to develop and fine-tuned a molecular diagnostic workflow for the highly specific and quantitative detection of Fasciola spp. This work has so far resulted in two scientific publications, with the opportunity to present at both national and international parasitology conferences.

Nichola hopes to bring her diagnostics to the field in 2018 with several prevalence and control trials planned in both Cambodia and Laos. Here she aims to implement medicated molasses feed supplement blocks as a novel form of liver fluke control. It is hoped that the benefits of anthelmintic use and parasite control will become more tangible when combined with the nutritional benefits of feed supplementation.

2018 Animal and Veterinary Bioscience Honours students.

Amanda Bouassi – University of Sydney student and New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipient

Urea molasses blocks to improve large ruminant productivity and profitability for smallholder farmers in Lao PDR

Bethanie Clark – University of Sydney student and New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipient

Investigating the effect of infectious reproductive pathogens on cattle and buffalo productivity in smallholder farms in Lao PDR

Francesca Earp – University of Sydney student and New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipient

One health: a risk factor study of Q Fever and Brucellosis in goats in Lao PDR

Brianne Pepper – University of Sydney student and New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipient

Biosecurity interventions for smallholder livestock enterprises in Lao PDR

Simin Khan – University of Sydney student and New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipient

Triclabendazole (TBZ) molasses blocks to control F. gigantica in smallholder large ruminants in Lao PDR


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