Animal health and management research
Massey University staff are working on world-leading collaborative research covering a range of areas related to infectious diseases and their transfer between the environment, animals and humans.
We have a broad range of specialists in animal, human and environmental health who are researching trends and solutions to emerging national and international public health issues caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites or viruses.
Medicine development for animals
Massey's fundamental scientists have expertise in developing hydrogels for delivering various pain killing drug preparations to animals.
Pain and stress alleviation and endrocrinology
Our research expertise is in animal responses to stress across a broad range of vertebrate animals, with a focus on non-invasive methods.
This includes expertise in endocrinology – individual variation in corticosterone and cortisol stress responses, endocrine and behavioural responses to stressors.
Pathobiology in animals
We have expertise in the mechanisms of disease development and diagnosis in animals. This includes a diverse range of disease processes including infectious diseases, cancer, toxicities, nutritional diseases and genetic diseases. We also have expertise in histopathology support and interpretation, developing methods to quantify disease severity, and study design for industry research.
Physiology in animals
Our researchers are looking at physiology in relation to a number of areas including breeding and nutrition uptake across production and companion animals and wildlife.
We are researching animals’ physiological responses to the environment and to human management. This includes responses to capture and handling.
Find programmes with a research element, including the PhD.
- Bachelor of Science with Honours (Animal Science)
- Master of Science (Animal Science)
- Master of Veterinary Medicine
- Master of Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology)
- Master of Veterinary Studies (Veterinary Pathology)
- Master of Veterinary Studies (Veterinary Public Health)
Search for an expert
Search our staff database for an expert or area of expertise.
Antimicrobial resistant bacteria in dairy cattle
The development and transmission of bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a complex and multifaceted process. One of the main drivers identified for the development and spread of AMR is the use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine as well as for agricultural use.
A project led by Distinguished Professor Nigel French and Dr Sarah Burgess investigated this issue and developed recommendations on how to manage antimicrobial use in order to prevent bacteria in the gut of dairy cattle developing AMR.
Bryde’s whales share secrets with their fins
Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) are classified as nationally critical in New Zealand and appear only on the north-eastern coast of the North Island.
A study, lead by Massey University’s Dr Gabriela Tezanos-Pinto, collated an extensive database of photographs showing distinctive fin features of individual whales over eight years to obtain missing demographic information about the local population.
Cameras light up bats in the dark
Part of a project led by the United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Professor David Hayman has been working with a US agency to develop tools that may be the key to saving bats from white-nose syndrome, a disease decimating their populations.
The bats are affected during hibernation, so the work sought to use less-disruptive thermal imaging to monitor behaviour over winter. The work is part of a long-term effort led by the United States Geological Survey to attempt to reverse the decline in many bat species in the US.
Capturing and analysing limb injuries in race horses
Funded by: The New Zealand Equine Trust
Equestrian industries make up about 2 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP and about a third of horses that start training and racing are retired and lost due to injury. About three-quarters of these are musculoskeletal injuries. Dr Bob Colborne and PhD student Alienor Bardin, a mechanical engineer, are investigating solutions to these injuries in race horses using 3D capture and computer modelling. The project involves having the horses trot and canter along a runway in a sand arena over a force platform embedded in the surface in front of six infrared cameras that record the 3D movement of the horse’s limb segments on a consistent surface.
Effects of climate change on grazing livestock health in New Zealand
This research project, led by Emilie Vallee in the School of Veterinary Science, worked to identify livestock diseases of concern for New Zealand that are likely to be impacted, in terms of incidence, severity or distribution by climate change by 2050 and 2100.
Foraging range of fur seals
Key funder: MBIE
This project investigated the foraging range of New Zealand fur seals at three breeding colonies in the South Island. We equipped females with satellite data loggers, investigated their feeding habits through the use of fatty acids and stable isotopes and assessed the spatial overlap between fur seals and fisheries using GIS tools.
Is your pet making you sick?
Household pets are a possible source of multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections, which the World Health Organization has identified as a major threat to human health, with numbers of infections on the rise.
A multi-disciplinary and cross-institution study aimed to identify novel risk factors for the growing number of community-acquired infections in New Zealand, including possible links between companion animals carrying resistant bacteria and human infection.
A six-year epidemiological study sought to understand the major risk factors for this disease in deer, to enable management recommendations. This included identification of farm and animal infection rates, efficiency of meat inspectors in detecting lesions and the effect of vaccination in young deer.
Lower injury rates in New Zealand racehorses
Racehorses in New Zealand have a lower risk of injury than in other countries, with further work needed to explain why.
The study, from Massey University’s Equine Research Centre, examined New Zealand race records and reports over six racing seasons between 2005 and 2011. During this time there were 188,616 race starts for 16,646 individual horses, with only 177 horses failing to complete a race for health-related reasons.
Internationally the rate is significantly lower, with recent work from the United Kingdom showing a race-day musculoskeletal injuries of 2.1 injuries per 1000 starts and research in Kentucky in the United States reporting a rate of 4.1 injuries per 1000 starts.
New rāpoka population confirmed
From reports of sightings of sea lion (rāpoka) pups on Stewart Island, Massey University’s Professor Louise Chilvers began visiting the island annually to make seal pup counts.
Eight years later in 2018 the presence of a New Zealand sea lion (rāpoka) breeding colony on Stewart Island was officially confirmed, the first on the New Zealand mainland in over 150 years.
The least abundant of all sea lion species globally, the rāpoka has been heavily impacted by human activity. The annual count is a team effort between Massey, the Department of Conservation and Auckland Zoo and will continue to better inform management and mitigation of the threat posed by human activity.
Reducing the burden of leptospirosis
Funded by: Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC)
A project led by Associate Professor Jackie Benschop, will attempt to address gaps in knowledge of the disease - leptospirosis. The work will inform control strategies by identifying risk factors, sources and pathways for human infection. It was awarded over $1m from the HRC in 2018.
Saving our honeybees
Supported by: AGMARDT and the Ministry of Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund
The bacterial pathogen, Paenibacillus larvae causes the honeybee disease American FoulBrood (AFB) the most serious disease of these important pollinators in New Zealand. The pathogen is spread through spores, which once ingested by young bee larvae, rapidly multiply and kill by breaking down the larvae’s body. The highly infectious nature of the pathogen means that once the signs of AFB are recognized in a New Zealand hive, it must be destroyed within seven days. Scientists from Massey University, led by Dr Heather Hendrickson, are investigating a natural bioprotective agent that may be key to keeping the pathogen at bay.
Border health indicators
Environmental Health Indicators New Zealand, a Massey initiative, provides indicators of border health like infectious diseases and pests introduced to New Zealand.
Livestock production in New Zealand
The complete guide to the management of dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep, deer, goats, pigs, poultry, horses and working dogs in New Zealand. Written mainly by experts from Massey University’s School of Veterinary Science, it is of value and interest to everyone from students to farmers, right across New Zealand’s agribusiness sector. Edited by Kevin Stafford.
The New Zealand Wildlife Mortality Database, Huia
This database, kept by Massey University's Wildbase, records the causes of death of all threatened species in New Zealand and is available by request to conservation workers and scientists.
Veterinary Clinical Toxicology
An excellent resource on toxicoses for veterinary students, practitioners, agriculturalists, diagnostic laboratories and libraries. Includes the latest references, new toxicities and an expanded section of poisonous plant plates in colour.
Animal Genetic Services
Massey University’s Equine Parentage and Animal Genetics Services Centre offers the most comprehensive range of DNA-based genetic testing for animals in New Zealand.
Companion Animal Clinic
Top-quality veterinary care for all types of small pets. Open to the public, we are the first choice veterinary clinic for local pets. You can also ask your veterinarian for a referral to us for difficult cases. For emergencies contact the Pet Emergency Centre.
Massey University provide radioimmunoassay and ELISA methods to measure hormones and other biological compounds for commercial clients and for collaborative research projects in many different species.
Equine Veterinary Clinic
Our highly skilled equine team offers a broad range of medical and surgical expertise. You can bring your horse in by appointment or ask your vet to refer your horse to us in difficult cases.
We are supported by experienced and qualified anaesthetists, nurses, technicians, clinical pathologists, and diagnostic imaging specialists allowing us to provide 24-hour intensive care.
Farm Services Clinic
Massey University’s Farm Services Clinic provides on-farm treatment for all farm animals as well as in-clinic consultations as required. We have a large animal hospital in Palmerston North providing ongoing care as well as advanced diagnostic imaging, intensive care and surgery for our patients.
We provide histopathology support and interpretation, developing methods to quantify disease severity and study design for industry research.
Pet Emergency Centre
We are the only 24-hour pet emergency centre in the central North Island. Our team is ready to provide excellent emergency and critical care treatment to your pet in our purpose-built, fully equipped facility.
Call 0800 PET EMERGENCY (0800 738 363)
Wildbase Hospital is New Zealand's only dedicated wildlife hospital. We provide a nationwide service and are at the forefront of veterinary care of New Zealand’s native birds, half of which are classified as threatened or endangered.
Wildbase Oil Response
Wildbase Oil Response works to minimise the damaging effects of oil pollution on wildlife. We undertake the care, rehabilitation and release of animals after a marine oil spill. We also provide training internationally in wildlife oil spill response and management.
Research centres and groups
Beef Research Centre
Our aim is to undertake quality research consistent with the needs of the New Zealand Beef Industry and to advance scientific knowledge of beef production, welfare, health and biology.
Coastal-Marine Research Group
This centre undertakes marine ecological research within and beyond New Zealand waters, concentrating largely on conservation and management orientated questions. Our specific strengths include marine mammal biology and ecology and quantitative marine ecology.
Dairy Research Centre
This Centre consists of scientists, technicians and veterinarians with expertise across a broad range of dairy system and dairy animal research projects. We operate a commercial Farm Services Clinic. We also work with some other milk-producing animals including sheep and goats.
The EpiCentre is the largest veterinary epidemiology training and research centre in Australasia. It is widely considered to be one of the leading groups in the world. We have expertise in the understanding and control of disease in animal populations, the transmission of disease from animals to humans, and hazards in food of animal origin.
Equine Research Centre
Much of the equine research carried out in New Zealand is conducted at Massey University. Our aim is to perform scientific research and promote education to optimise equine health, welfare and the productivity of the equine industry.
The Hopkirk Institute is a joint institute – scientists are from both AgResearch and Massey University. It has the southern hemisphere's largest concentration of health sciences for pastoral-fed animals.
Scientists collaborate on researching solutions for the sustainable control of parasitic diseases, primarily in sheep and cattle including:
- evaluating more effective vaccines to combat infectious disease, including tuberculosis, Johne's disease, mastitis and pneumonia
- identifying and predicting food poisoning threats in New Zealand and devising strategies to minimise their prevalence and impact.
Infectious Disease Research Centre (IDReC)
The Centre engages in applied research concerning multi-host pathogens and fundamental research regarding pathogen evolution and disease emergence. We cover the spectrum of population-based infectious disease research from microbiology, through population genetics, epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, disease ecology, statistics, mathematical modelling, and public health.
International Sheep Research Centre
The focus of the Centre is to advance the scientific knowledge of sheep production, husbandry, welfare, health, nutrition, reproduction and biology of sheep.
Monogastric Research Centre
The Centre is an Australasian Centre of Excellence on monogastric species. Research focuses on feed evaluation, nutrition, husbandry and welfare. It provides a focal point for the New Zealand monogastric industries and has extensive international linkages.
One Health Aotearoa
Massey University scientists are part of One Health Aotearoa. An alliance of New Zealand’s leading infectious diseases researchers, this group work together to address important health hazards in New Zealand.
Working Dog Centre
We work to improve the health and working life of working and service dogs through cutting-edge scientific investigations.
The mEpiLab's works to improve the health of New Zealanders by developing and applying new techniques to inform decision making and guide the prevention and control of infectious disease.