African Genomics Project

The aim of the African Genomics Project is to investigate underlying genetic mechanisms for adaption in local beef cattle genomes in collaboration with the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and Queen Mary University of London. The project is led by Professor Esté van Marle-Köster who also leads  applied genetic research in beef and dairy cattle within her department. In terms of cross-faculty research at UP, she is collaborating with Prof André Ganswindt, Director of UP’s Mammal Research Institute (MRI), on studies about animal behaviour and physiology. Prof Van Marle-Köster is also involved in the PLF project with Prof Herman Myburgh of the Department of Electrical Engineering; this project aims to automate body condition scoring and detect lameness in dairy cows.

Her latest project is to do with monitoring the behaviour and water intake of commercial feedlot cattle, and measuring their stress. This is another collaboration with Prof Ganswindt and the MRI. Animal science is all about responsible and sustainable food production, she says. In her research, Prof Van Marle-Köster focuses on traits related not only to production, but to the welfare of animals too. Sound animal husbandry results in longevity in animals and increases the overall efficiency of the system, she adds; it also improves sustainability.