My Co-op post yesterday got me thinking even more about connecting the fields of Modern Agriculture and Conservation Biology.
I remembered a group of researchers being led by Dr. Katy Proudfoot at The Ohio State University. They are looking at spatial use of maternity pens by dairy cows. These maternity pens are typically small (1,000-3,000 square feet) and can have a high cattle stocking density (I believe only 50 square feet per cow is common)
As a Wildlife Sciences undergraduate, I would have found the opportunity to collaborate with a veterinary group as an extremely attractive project. So today I reached out to the College if Natural Resources at the University of Idaho, to see if I could connect with anyone there who would be interested in helping the veterinary group on these studies.
I also tweeted at a post-doc researcher who has done much work on white nose syndrome in bats. She said she may know some people from the conservation side interested!
On the natural resources side, determining spatial use is a major pillar of conservation research, and maintaining the proper environment to maximise use is a fundamental task of ecologists.
On the veterinary side, we often talk about barn design to control the environment in favor of the cows, i.e. proper ventilation, temperature control, access and delivery of food and water, waste management etc. We spend very little time thinking about the cow’s preference or biological drive, and Dr. Proudfoot’s team is leading the way in that area.