Student rewarded for study on cows teat health

BY SARAH WATERS
Last updated 17:06 06/11/2012
Nicolette Adamson
Sarah Waters
Morrinsville College student Nicolette Adamson conducting tests for her scientific study ‘‘It all starts at the teat-end’’.

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After spending hours dedicated to finding out about cows’ teat health, Morrinsville College student Nicolette Adamson, 17, has come away with an impressive result.

Nicolette’s extensive study on the relationship between teat-end hyperkeratosis (TEH), skin thickening around the teat and infection, has been selected by the Royal Society of New Zealand for Genesis Energy’s Realise the Dream.

The prestigious event rewards and celebrates secondary school students who have undertaken an outstanding science or engineering project.

Nicolette is one of only 20 students around the country to be selected.

She will travel down the North Island, visiting various science and engineering institutes and will be in the running for one of eight scholarships or overseas trips.

Prior to her selection, Nicolette’s study won a host of awards, including Best in Fair and Best Science Exhibit at the East Waikato Science and Technology Fair and a Gold CREST award, another highly prestigious science prize awarded through the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Nicolette, who conducted 32,000 tests on 2300 cows and 8000 teats over six terms, said she was ‘‘really, really happy’’ about the achievement.

The aim of Nicolette’s study was to investigate the relationship between teat-end hyperkeratosis and somatic cell count, a measure for infection, which is related to a condition called clinical mastitis.

Mastitis is estimated to cost the New Zealand dairy industry $180 million dollars a year.

‘‘The most exciting thing for me in the findings, was cows with a very rough teat at the first herd test, are 3.2 times more likely to be infected at the next herd test,’’ she said.

Nicolette, who worked with Anexa Animal Health (Morrinsville) herd health veterinarian and consultant Katrina Roberts, said the findings from her study could be used by vets for mastitis investigations on farms and by industry leaders such as Fonterra.

Morrinsville College principal John Inger closely followed Nicolette’s study and said it was the equivalent of a university honours dissertation.

Nicolette is planning to study veterinary science at Massey University in Palmerston North next year.

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