USyd, UC Davis strengthen collaborative ties

Cameron Carter and Michael Spence AC signing the agreement.

Cameron Carter and Michael Spence AC signing the agreement.

A new agreement between the University of Sydney and the University of California, Davis will see academics benefit from new access to research collaborations and shared funding.

In February, leaders from both institutions joined a partnership signing event.

Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Cameron Carter of UC Davis and Vice-Chancellor and Principal Michael Spence AC both highlighted the fact that UC Davis has research expertise which greatly complements areas of research strength at Sydney.

“We are very excited about this partnership agreement, particularly for the areas of agriculture and veterinary science,” Spence said. Continue reading USyd, UC Davis strengthen collaborative ties

Noseband nastiness highlighted by USyd research

A welfare issue for horses fitted with tight nosebands has been highlighted by new research from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science.

‘The Effect of Noseband Tightening on Horses’ Behaviour, Eye Temperature, and Cardiac Responses’ was published in PLOS ONE journal in early May, and finds that horses experience physiological stress responses when prevented from moving their jaws.

The study reveals instances of horses’ resting heart rates rising from 34bpm to 100bpm following noseband tightening.

The use of restrictive nosebands to bind the jaws of sport horses is a common practice according to the study’s lead author, horse trainer Kate Fenner. Continue reading Noseband nastiness highlighted by USyd research

Research reveals loophole in whipping rules


Fig 1 bA Sydney University study has exposed a loophole in whipping rules which may inadvertently encourage jockeys to use a whip in a way that causes more harm.

The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, analysed both forehand and backhand whipstrikes of jockeys in Victoria.

Under the Australian Racing Board’s Rules of Racing, jockeys are limited in using forehand whip strikes. Forehand whipstrikes may not be delivered in consecutive strides nor on more than five occasions before the final 100 metres. However, backhand strikes are permitted without reservation – as long as the horse is in contention.

According to the paper, “this seems to imply that backhand whip use is less closely scrutinised, which may have profound implications for horse welfare.”

Lead investigatory Professor Paul McGreevy said that approximately 70 per cent of whip use is backhand – and thus immune to limitations under the 2009 ARB rules.

A previous study by the same team found that whip strikes caused a visible indentation in 83 per cent of impacts, and the unpadded section of the whip made contact with the horse in 64 per cent of cases.

Continue reading Research reveals loophole in whipping rules

Challenges in prognostication of FIV-positive patients

Jules and Bob 2

Veterinarian Julia Beatty with FIV positive rescue cat Bob.

A Sydney University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that the presence of haematologic and biochemical abnormalities could not be relied upon to determine clinical progression of FIV in sick feline patients, and that FIV-positive status alone did not have a negative impact on survival.

The authors set out to compare signalment, complete blood count and biochemistry panel, major clinical problem and survival between client-owned FIV-positive and uninfected domestic cats. The retrospective study, one of the largest of its kind, involved 520 cats tested for FIV.

Whilst reasonably straightforward to diagnose, often with an in-house antibody detection kit, feline experts continue to puzzle about how FIV contributes to disease status. Naturally infected cats present with a range of clinical signs including stomatitis, cachexia, atypical, refractory or recurrent infections, neurologic signs, persistent cytopaenias and immune-mediated disease – but these problems are often seen in FIV-negative cats too. With the exception of a small subset of lymphomas, AIDS-defining illnesses are not recognised for FIV. Additionally, many FIV-positive cats remain asymptomatic with a normal life expectancy.

In experimental studies of FIV infection, cats have shown progressive aberrations in measures of immune function such as lymphocyte subset counts and mitogen responsiveness, but these changes are rarely associated with clinical signs. Continue reading Challenges in prognostication of FIV-positive patients

Ken Jubb dies

Emeritus Professor Ken Jubb died in Werribee on February 27 following a brief illness. Despite formally retiring in 1990, Professor Jubb continued to attend the veterinary school daily until recently.

As a world renowned pathologist, educator, mentor and a key contributor to the establishment of numerous veterinary schools, Professor Kenneth Vincent Finlayson Jubb’s leaves an impressive legacy.

After graduating from Sydney University in 1951, Jubb embarked on a career in veterinary pathology, later acting as author and editor – alongside California University’s Peter Kennedy – of editions one through four of Pathology of Domestic Animals. The fifth edition, published in 2007, was renamed Jubb and Kennedy’s Pathology of Domestic Animals. Jubb contributed to the development of the sixth edition, co-authoring the chapter on diseases of the pancreas with Andrew Stent. Continue reading Ken Jubb dies