Solving a hidden threat to New Zealand’s meat and dairy industry

Beef and lamb exports, among New Zealand’s major industries, potentially will exceed $3 billion for the first time this year. But a high prevalence of veterinary pathogens causes high rates of animal death, suffering, and decreased production, and diseases like pneumonia in sheep and mastitis in cows lack effective vaccines.

Associate Professors Bridget Stocker and Mattie Timmer, from Victoria University of Wellington, are working with AgResearch to help address this problem, developing vaccines to help prevent ovine pneumonia, with promising early results.

This is the next step in an ongoing project for the university researchers, who have spent the past few years developing a new class of vaccine adjuvant—which is an additive to a vaccine that improves the host’s immune response and increases vaccine efficacy.

During the development of this adjuvant class, the researchers, along with their PhD student, Amy Foster, worked with Professor Sho Yamasaki, from Japan, one of the world’s foremost experts in immunology. Continue reading

Pain management in livestock is becoming more important for vets

Greater understanding about livestock’s ability to sense pain has more vets integrating pain relief into some treatments, as regulations also start to tighten on treatment standards, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health New Zealand advises.

On October 1 this year, the law will require all cattle being disbudded or dehorned to be given appropriate and effective local anaesthetic that has been authorised by a veterinarian.

The New Zealand Veterinary Guidelines also recommend the use of an appropriate long-acting pain killer at the time of disbudding and dehorning. Continue reading

Researchers work on next-generation sanitisers to control bovine mastitis

Researchers from the Universities of Otago and Auckland have teamed up with Deosan, the manufacturer and supplier of a range of animal health products, to develop new sanitisers for mastitis management. The aim is to enhance New Zealand’s position as a global leader in milk quality by improving performance in mastitis prevention and guard against the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder, is the foremost production-limiting disease for dairying worldwide. It costs the New Zealand dairy industry more than $280 million a year in treatment and discarded milk.

The industry  relies largely on just two antimicrobial sanitisers to control mastitis, administered through teat sprays. Both formulations contain bioactive ingredients (chlorhexidine or iodine) that are also widely used for infection control in hospitals.

The mounting threat of antimicrobial resistance in clinical environments and lower acceptance of chemical residues in consumer products have prompted calls for the development of new types of products for use within the dairy industry.

Previous research by the team (supported by Agmardt) has uncovered a new class of molecules with  potent antimicrobial activity against mastitis-causing microorganisms. These have the potential to synergise with current treatments while being harmless to mammalian cells.

The study will use a combined microbiological and medicinal chemistry approach to advance these new anti-mastitis molecules and pave the way for  new teat care formulations.

Deosan chief executive Kip Bodle said this project provides an ideal opportunity for key stakeholders in the industry to collaborate to ensure we maintain our position as a global leader in producing quality milk.

“Our intention is to engage with government and industry leaders to ensure we are successful in commercialising products that could have global significance. Our more recent experience in the international arena strongly suggests that New Zealand innovation around milk quality resonates well with emerging dairy markets”

The Otago research team, led by Professor Greg Cook, Drs Michelle McConnell and Adam Heikal, are supported by the Auckland University team of Professor Margaret Brimble,