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New Mexico Collaborates with Australia to Research Livestock Welfare


Rangelands in the American Southwest and in Australia are facing the same challenge; ensuring animal welfare on vast plains, where livestock are difficult to track and observe.

In order to help ranchers better manage their livestock, Derek Bailey, a professor in the New Mexico State University (NSMU) Department of Animal and Range Sciences, plans to collaborate with Mark Trotter, associate professor of precision agriculture at Central Queensland University, Australia.

Bailey and Trotter’s research efforts will be complementary. Bailey aims to learn from Trotter’s knowledge of precision livestock farming. Precision livestock farming involves using the advanced GPS tracking technology to monitor cattle and sheep behavior, and determine whether an animal needs assistance. In exchange, Bailey offers his existing data and analysis of rangeland cattle grazing behavior. As director of NMSU’s 61,000-acre Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center, Bailey has analyzed how low-stress herding and supplement placement can encourage cattle to graze areas they normally avoid, such as those on steep hillsides distant from water, and subsequently reduce the impacts of fine fuels and catastrophic wildfire.

This collaborative research is enabled through Bailey’s award of the prestigious Fulbright Senior Scholarship by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, promoting ‘education and cultural exchange between Australia and the United States in order to enhance mutual understanding and strengthen relations between the two countries.’ Such exchange of information represents NMSU’s global research efforts and sharing of technological advances across international borders.

The US is the 8th largest source of international students enrolled in Australian schools, with 8320 Americans studying abroad in Australia in 2012/13. The US remains the most popular destination for outbound Australian students, with 4196 Australian studying abroad in the US in that same year. The University of New Mexico has direct student exchange arrangements with three universities in Australia: Newcastle University (New South Wales), Flinders University (South Australia) and University of Sunshine Coast (Queensland).

Alison Ma is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C. She is on an exchange program from the University of Sydney.