AUSTRALIAN Pork Limited has congratulated Dr Kate Plush on receiving the Australian Pork Award,
as part of the 2013 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig presented the awards at a gala dinner for the agriculture sector's key annual conference, Outlook, noting the government's investment in research and development (R&D).
A postdoctoral rResearch fellow through the Pork Co-operative Research Centre at the University of
Adelaide, Dr Plush is conducting research into confinement-free sow and piglet management.
The grant she received will go towards her project titled Interventions to reduce stillbirth rates and improve
postnatal viability in the piglet. The aim of the project is to determine whether maternal supplementation of
magnesium sulphate reduces the incidence of stillbirth in piglets, hypoxic damage and increases piglet viability,
and overall piglet peri-natal mortality.
Dr Plush said pre-weaning piglet mortality was a major constraint to the profitability of the pig industry.
"Still births contribute approximately 25-50% of overall mortality," she said.
"Additionally, non-fatal hypoxia results in
neural damage to the piglet which may contribute to additional post-natal mortality from sow crushing and
starvation/exposure to cold."
"This project will allow me to apply previous strengths to my current research, facilitating a somewhat
comfortable transition from postgraduate studies in sheep to a research career in pigs.
"It will also allow me to
commence a career in an area in which there is knowledge to be gained, and which will become of increased
importance if alternate gestation and lactation housing is adopted by industry."
The evening's awards provided a duel win for the Australian pork industry. In addition to Dr Plush's
success was the award presented to Dr Joshua Sweeny, research officer from the Department of Agriculture
and Food WA. He was the recipient of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy Award for his project on
Determining the optimum vitamin D requirement in modern pig genotypes. This award is to help combat lameness
and associated welfare issues in pigs.
The Science and Innovation Awards encourage participation in science, innovation and technology in rural
industries and help advance the careers of young scientists through national recognition of their research. The
Awards provide recipients with grants of up to $22,000 each to pursue their research project exploring an
emerging scientific issue or innovation over a 12 month period.
For more information go here.
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