Katherine Ashley – University of Sydney PhD student
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.
Kathryn (Kate) Owers – University of Sydney student and Asia-Bound Scholarship recipient
Kate is a final year honours student from the University of Sydney completing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. Kate is visiting Cambodia to conduct research for her honours project that aims to investigate foot and mouth disease (FMD) reporting within Cambodia and avenues for improvement to benefit smallholder village biosecurity. FMD is a significant transboundary animal disease affecting rural smallholder production by reducing animal production and quality, impacting on the livelihood of farmers and reducing trade opportunities. By investigating FMD reporting to central DAHP, this project seeks to understand more about the impact of FMD on smallholder farmers, villages and Cambodia. Assessing the knowledge, attitude and practice of farmers and village animal health workers (VAHWs) will allow evaluation of the actions of farmers & VAHWs when reporting FMD to authorities. From this information Kate will make recommendations to improve the flow of information from farmer to central DAHP to increase the understanding of FMD in Cambodia to inform control and eradication efforts.
Improving Bos indicus reproduction in Cambodia through enhanced animal health, nutrition and husbandry
Luisa is a final year honours student from the University of Sydney completing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. Her research project aims to investigate and report on cattle reproduction in Cambodia and recommend improvements through enhanced animal health, nutrition and husbandry. This requires a baseline understanding of the current status and practices involved in cattle reproduction at the smallholder village level in order to identify nutritional, health and husbandry constraints. This will be achieved through analysis of farmer knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) surveys conducted by Department of Animal Health and Production (DAHP) staff. This is important to investigate appropriate interventions that can be implemented in villages to improve number of calves born. Increasing the number of calves born will lead to an increased cattle population in Cambodia. This will allow farmers to increase their income by selling animals to meet the growing demand for red meat in South-East Asia.
Angela Zhang – University of Sydney student and Asia-Bound Scholarship recipient
Angela is a final year honours student from the University of Sydney completing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. She is undertaking an honours project to investigate the status of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) in smallholder pig farms and village-based biosecurity practices in Cambodia. Since the first reported outbreak in Cambodia in 2010, PRRS has gained increasing attention as an important focus for community-level livestock disease control programmes. However, its epidemiological status has yet to be investigated fully. Angela’s project aims to establish baseline knowledge of the current beliefs and actions of smallholders towards PRRS as an important first step in understanding how the disease develops in rural communities and the impact of the disease at the household level. Angela then aims to use this information to suggest recommendations for smallholders to control and prevent the disease.
Nichola is a final year honours student from the University of Sydney completing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. Nichola is carrying out a research project in Cambodia where she aims to evaluate the use of medicated urea molasses blocks (MUMB) within smallholder village systems. The study addresses malnutrition due to a gastrointestinal parasite, Fasciola hepatica, which has been identified as significant constraint to improving productivity of large ruminants within smallholder systems across Cambodia. The success of MUMB will be assessed through farmer interviews, and body condition score (BCS) and faecal egg counts (FEC) of buffalo and cattle. MUMB has the potential as an effective and cheap intervention to reduce parasite loads and improve the nutritional status of these large ruminants.
Tereza Nemanic – University of Sydney student and Asia-Bound Scholarship recipient
Tereza is a final year honours student from the University of Sydney completing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. Tereza is carrying out a research project in northern Laos where she aims to evaluate the use of medicated urea molasses blocks (MUMB) within smallholder village systems. The study addresses malnutrition and gastrointestinal parasites, which have been identified as significant constraints to improving productivity of large ruminants within smallholder systems across Laos. The success of MUMB will be assessed through farmer interviews, and body condition score (BCS) and faecal egg count (FEC) of large ruminants. MUMB has the potential as an effective intervention to reduce parasite loads and improve the nutritional status of large ruminants. Improving the health of large ruminants is a key component within the smallholder transition from subsistence farming to a market orientated production, which will ultimately contribute to poverty alleviation in Laos.
Joanne Thomas – University of Sydney student
Investigating knowledge, attitude and practices of large ruminant slaughterhouse operators in northern Laos
Joanne is completing a Masters of Veterinary Public Health Management. The aim of the research is to evaluate slaughterhouse operator knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of best practice, quality assurance, quality control, HACCP and animal welfare. This data will allow the identification of key gaps and allow informed recommendations for future development to be made. This will be achieved through the analysis of KAP surveys of both staff and management at a number of slaughterhouses in northern Laos. Understanding current slaughterhouse processes from the operators’ perspective is important as it gives information that can support cooperative and coordinated development of the Laos beef industry. This is currently particularly relevant, with increasing opportunities for trade within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
Investigating gastrointestinal parasites in goats in Lao PDR
Kate is a final year student from the University of Sydney completing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Kate conducted a research project that aimed to quantify the presence of gastrointestinal parasites in Lao goats, and identify which parasite species are of most concern in traditional smallholder management systems. This data will help determine the impact of gastrointestinal parasites on goat productivity in Lao PDR and the degree of pasture contamination attributable to goats. It also provides a starting point for planning parasite control measures where necessary into the future. Goat production is the most affordable livestock option for the poorest Lao smallholder farmers, thus presents a key opportunity for improving farmer profits and subsequent poverty alleviation.
Nina Matsumoto – University of Sydney student
Nina is a fourth year veterinary student who completed a research year with the MLR team investigating the reproductive outcomes of cattle and buffalo in northern upland Lao PDR in 2014. Prior research indicated poor calving rates and inter-calving intervals in both species, but with little investigation into the potential causes for these reproductive losses. In her work, Nina found that farmers had low knowledge of large ruminant reproduction and that many were not practicing basic reproductive management strategies such as bull calf castration and sex separation. Numerous farmers also held cultural beliefs that prevented such interventions, a factor which needs to be taken into account for future interventions and farmer training. Her research is now focused upon assessing the profitability and efficacy of a number of different reproductive management strategies in the region.