THE Horse Capital of Australia is set to benefit from the University of Newcastle’s most recent round of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding.
Post-Doctoral Researcher in Equine Science at UON, Dr Zamira Gibb received the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award on Friday which includes $365,058 in funding towards enhanced equine fertility methods.
Dr Gibb has worked closely with Upper Hunter thoroughbred breeders for the past few years and believes Scone is set to become a “research nexus” in equine science.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and very surprised to receive the award,” she said.
“It is certainly true that without the Upper Hunter thoroughbred industry’s incredible support – both financially and through the provision of biological samples and breeding data – I would not be in the position that I am now in.”
Dr Gibb said she will be using the funding to further investigate the factors leading to early embryo loss in mares – a phenomenon which accounts for up to 25 per cent of all pregnancy failures.
“I am particularly interested in improving methods of detecting and managing infertility in both stallions and mares,” she said.
“This will have both economic and welfare advantages due to the reduced need to transport horses and perform repeated veterinary interventions.
“It will also have the potential to either reduce stallion workloads or allow them to book more mares in a given breeding season.”
With the announcement of the nation’s first equine genetics research laboratory service set to be operational in Scone by April 2018, Dr Gibb said it only further enhances the region’s world-class reputation in equine breeding.
“It’s great to see the fantastic facilities at the research centre going to good use,” she said.
“The placement of Australia’s first equine genetics research laboratory service in Scone is particularly exciting as with any luck it will grow into a research nexus to cover all areas of equine science.
“I believe that Scone is already considered to be second only to Kentucky as a centre of excellence for thoroughbred breeding in the world,” Dr Gibbs said.
Over the next three months, Dr Gibbs and her team at UON will work on projects that are at the cutting edge of applied reproductive technology in the equine industry.
“We are continuing to cement the region’s reputation as supporting world-leading research in addition to breeding world-class horses,” she said.