Three new Egg Industry Centre research grants totalling nearly $213,000 have lifted total funding for egg research to more than $1m since 2013.
The latest recipients to receive funding are:
The university’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences is to receive a $89,917 grant for research into the infectiveness, transmission and response to disinfectant treatment of 3 emerging strains of disease causing avian reovirus, led by Dr Huanguang Lu, clinical professor and avian virologist. The university has been at the forefront of this work for many years and in 2015 produced a report in Nature looking at isolation and molecular characterisation of newly emerging avian reovirus variants and novel strains found in the State between 2011-2014.
A study on the use of robots for the collection of floor eggs in open housing systems and the effect of the robot’s presence on behaviour of birds is being funded to the value of $85,605.
The research will be led by Professor Yang Zhao, assistant professor of agricultural and Biosystems engineering, who has worked on evaluating a laying hen tracking algorithm based on a hybrid support vector machine. That study, published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology found that the machine had the potential for use in monitoring bird behaviour under practical rearing conditions.
Much of poultry robot research in this area so far has taken place in Europe. Wageningen University in the Netherlands have developed an autonomous robot that can identify and collect missing eggs (Poultrybot). The bot can also carry sensors to monitor animal status and behaviour, as well as temperature, humidity and dust levels in the hen house.
The university will benefit from a $37,396 grant for research examining how different housing systems affect gastrointestinal bacterial communities and overall bird health. It will be led Professor Dawn Koltes, adjunct assistant professor of animal science, who has a background in genetics and energy regulation and nutrient absorption in poultry to improve overall well-being and efficiency.
Hongwei Xin, director of the Egg Industry Centre, said it had funded 19 research projects at 10 universities since 2013. Completed research has helped to advance knowledge in virus transmission, genetic research, keel bone abnormalities, new market development and more.
Funded research in progress includes work on predisposing disease, enhanced building ventilation and air filtration systems, the effect of using ramps in aviary housing systems and a microbiome comparison of laying hens living in different housing systems.