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Published: 25 May 2022

Senior Research Fellow Dr Megan Verdon leads TIA’s ‘Animal production and welfare’ research group as well as several programs of research at TIA.

She joined TIA  in 2016 to work on a project which assessed new “Virtual Fencing” technology to manage grazing livestock.

Megan received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Melbourne in 2007.
She returned to the University of Melbourne where she completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Animal Science and Management.

These studies introduced Megan to the discipline of animal welfare science, and in 2010 she commenced a PhD at the Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) and the University of Melbourne.

Her PhD studies explored the development of aggressive behaviour in sows. Megan received the Australian Government Science and Innovation Award while her completing her PhD.

What project are you working on?
Increasing farm profitability and consumer acceptance through increased utilisation of non-replacement dairy calves.

How is the project funded?
Dairy Australia – Dairy HIGH 2.

What challenge does your research aim to solve?
More than 68,500 calves born in Tasmania each year are classified as surplus calves. These are animals produced in excess to the industry's needs. My research is contributing to the development of a market for surplus calves to be reared for the beef production chain in Australia.
This program has three main activities. The first activity is working with producers to develop regionally targeted pathways for surplus calves to enter the beef market in Tasmania. The second is conducting social research to understand the stakeholder attitudes and barriers to the adoption of increased utilisation of surplus calves. The third activity is examining sire selection in dairy crossbreeding reproduction programs.
This project is aligned with two Priority Research Areas central to the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s Strategic Objectives relating to Deliver Solutions to "Agricultural Problems for Tasmania and the World" and "Economically Sustainable Agriculture".

How will your research be used by the agricultural industry?
This research will advise Tasmanian dairy producers looking to reduce the number of surplus calves produced on their farm.  By increasing carcass value and reducing rearing costs I hope that my research will raise the economic value and thus utilisation of the surplus calves, while also providing farmers with a potential alternative source of income.

What is the best part of your job?
Working with other researchers and producers with a shared passion and vision for Tasmania as a leader in sustainable livestock production.

Could you share a career highlight?
Hearing that Tasmania is leading the nation in increased utilisastion of the surplus calf.