52nd Annual 



Animal science communication: 
Is it reliable?  Is it relevant?  Is it responsible?
10-12 August 2021




Global Food and Agribusiness Network
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De jager

Pres. World Farmers Organisation
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Real food dietitian, sustainability advocate
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Efficient group
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Author and futurist
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Livestock sustainability consultant
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Statistical geneticist
and farmer
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Frank Mitloehner

Professor and air quality specialist
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du preez

Chairman at RussellStone group
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  • Prof.

    Mahlako Makgahlela

    Agricultural Research Centre, senior researcher: animal production
    Prof. Linky Makgahlela obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Limpopo and holds a PhD in animal breeding and genetics from the University of Helsinki in Finland...

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    She joined the ARC-Animal Production Institute in 2007 as a researcher responsible for genetic evaluation of female fertility in South African dairy cattle. Prof. Makgahlela worked as a visiting scientist at Iowa State University in the Centre for Integrated Animal Genomics from 2008–2009, receiving training on theapplication of genomic technologies in livestock improvement programmes under the supervision of Professor Emeritus of Animal Science, Max Rothschild. In 2010, she was awarded a scholarship by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture to pursue a doctoral degree in Finland and worked as a researcher for MTT AgriFood Research Finland (currently Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)) as part of that degree. She returned to the ARC-Animal Production as a senior researcher in animal breeding and genetics was appointed a research manager for this research programme in 2016, where she is responsible for a set of cross-cutting research areas including conservation and utilisation of indigenous animal genetic resources, development of new/novel and efficiency traits, genomic technologies and integration to enhance the quantity and quality of animal food products in commercial and smallholder sectors, improvement of physiology and reproduction efficiency, and climate-smart livestock production to mitigate the effects of climate change. The mission of these research areas being to build a genetic understanding of the animal genetic resources of South Africa and integrate breeding and reproductive technologies into systems for improved climate-smart production in the livestock industry and conservation of animal biodiversity. Prof. Makgahlela is an affiliated associated professor from the University of the Free State and rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF). She has graduated a number of postgraduate students, published 25 peer-reviewed articles in local and international journals, 18 non-peer reviewed articles and industry reports, and delivered 37 oral and poster presentations in local and international conferences.


    Edward Webb

    University of Pretoria, professor: production animal physiology, meat science, livestock ecology
    Prof. Edward Webb is a Professor of production animal physiology, functional anatomy, and meat science in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Pretoria, having previously served as deputy dean in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and as head of the Department of Animal Science in the same faculty

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    He obtained the degrees BSc(Agric), BSc(Agric)(Hons) cum laude, MSc(Agric) cum laude, and PhD from the University of Pretoria (UP), and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Ghent in Belgium and Nutrico in The Netherlands. Some of his outstanding academic achievements include the Standard Bank of South Africa merit award, National Research Foundation (NRF) merit awards, SASAS merit award, the SASAS bronze medal for his PhD thesis, AM Bosman gold medal and a Fellowship from the Flemish Ministry in Belgium. Prof. Webb’s teaching and research focus on the effects of dietary factors and exogenous growth molecules on animal growth, adaptation, reproduction, and carcass and meat quality. The research focus is specifically on ways to improve the efficiency of animal production in resource- constrained environments and in an ethical and environmentally acceptable way. He has published 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers, presented 134 papers at conferences or symposia, 30 technical reports, co-edited two books, contributed 17 book chapters, 33 popular scientific papers, and one patent. He is a registered professional animal scientist and served as vice-president (2004–2008) and president (2009–2014) of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS).


    Francois van de Vyver

    Voermol, national technical manager

    Dr Francois van de Vyver is currently the national technical manager at Voermol Feeds. He has been involved in the animal feed industry for the past decade as ruminant nutritionist, prior to which he was employed by the University of Stellenbosch as a lecturer in animal nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences. 

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    In addition to his employment within the industry, he is also heavily involved with the wider animal feed industry and serves as Chairperson for the Technical Committee of Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA), as well as member of the Board of Directors for AFMA. He acquired his doctorate degree at Stellenbosch University in 2011 after earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pretoria.
  • DR

    Heinz Meissner

    Milk SA, research and development manager
    Before retirement, Dr Heinz Meissner was associated with the University of Pretoria as a Professor in animal nutrition and later as director of the ARC’s Animal Nutrition and Products Institute at Irene, where he managed the interface between animal production, product development and consumer science.

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    He is also an Extraordinary Professor at the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science. Since retirement, he is consulting for Agri SA, the red meat industry and primarily also the dairy industry where he manages the R & D initiative of Milk SA. Apart from animal nutrition and management, he has vast experience in environmental issues and represents South Africa on the Scientific Committee for the Environment of the International Dairy Federation. One of his contributions in this regard is the argument that more emphasis should be put on carbon sequestration to limit the agricultural carbon footprint. Dr Meissner has published more than 200 scientific publications and has received a number of recognitions, among others the Gold Medal from the South African Society for Animal Science, the Agricultural Writers Association’s award for Agricultural Scientist of the Year, and the Person of the Year Award from the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association.


    Trevor Dugmore

    SASAS vice-president, SAJAS sub-editor
    Before serving as the vice-President of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) and subeditor of the South African Journal of Animal Science, Dr Trevor Dugmore was the scientific manager for animal science research in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, specialising in dairy and ruminant nutrition.

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    He has served as a member of the Milk SA Research & Development Advisory Committee, a reviewer for the National Research Foundation (NRF), and is a trustee/board member of the Mdukatshani Rural Development Trust in KwaZulu-Natal. He is also an external examiner for numerous postgraduate theses at the University of KZN, Stellenbosch University, University of the Free State, and University of Pretoria. Dr Dugmore has spoken at over 150 farmers’ days throughout Southern Africa, presented 19 scientific papers at scientific congresses and 15 at symposia, authored and co-authored 17 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, eight in scientific proceedings, and 26 popular papers.


    Michael MacNeil

    Delta G: breeding and genetics specialist and editor of SAJAS
    Dr Michael MacNeil received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cornell University, master’s degree in animal science from Montana State University, and PhD in animal breeding and genetics from South Dakota State University in the United States (US).

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    During his career he worked at the US Meat Animal Research Center as a statistician and research animal scientist in the production systems unit, and the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, where he served as research geneticist and led the Line 1 Hereford breeding programme. After retiring from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service in December 2011, he founded Delta G to continue working in quantitative genetics, statistics, and systems analysis with breed associations, private industry, and government research organisations, both domestically and internationally. He is the author or co-author of more than 175 articles appearing in refereed scientific literature and this work has been cited more than 4 200 times. Dr MacNeil has been awarded the Continuing Service and Pioneer Awards by the Beef Improvement Federation and the Rockefeller-Prentice Animal Breeding Award by the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS). He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of South Dakota State University for his outstanding professional achievements in 2010 and an honorary member of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) in 2012. In 2017, he was named a Research Fellow of the ASAS.
  • DR

    Japie van der westhuizen

    SA Stud Book, general manager
    After completing his BSc(Agric) degree in animal production and honours degree in animals breeding at the University of Pretoria, Dr Japie van der Westhuizen went on to earn both master's and doctoral degrees in animal breeding and genetics from the Free State University.

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    He established the group that initiated national genetic (BLUP) evaluations for farm animals in South Africa at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in 1995. After joining SA Stud Book in 2011, he established units for research and development, genetic merit prediction, and technical advisory services. He is a member of Interbeef's steering committee, which is responsible for international genetic evaluation of beef cattle, a past member of the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) Lactation Working Group, a past chair of ICAR's Beef Recording Working Group, and is an active member of the ICAR Expert Advisory Group responsible for the Certificate of Quality assessments globally, as well as recently completing a second term as an ICAR board member. Dr van der Westhuizen was invited by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to assist in the drafting of global guidelines for animal recording. He is an author or co-author of 23 scientific papers, 53 national and international congress contributions, 16 scientific reports, several semi-scientific and popular articles, six book chapters, and has served as session chair at four international conferences. He has supervised several postgraduate students in animal breeding and genetics, and he is currently an extraordinary lecturer at the University of Pretoria in animal breeding, and honorary Professor at the Central University of Technology. The South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) awarded Japie with a Silver Medal in 2006 for his contribution towards the science of genetic improvement of livestock in South Africa.


    Thato Moagi-Mugonda

    Agricultural scientist, agripreneur, Nuffield scholar, policy advisor, farming advocate, app developer
    Thato Moagi-Mugonda is an agriprereneur who is passionate about indigenous crops and livestock, and first South African to be nominated as a Nuffield International Farming Scholar.

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    The aim of her research was to highlight key aspects that will enable the unlocking of value within the developing economy context highlighting economic and social issues around the adoption and supportive legislature that will enable the maximum productivity at farm level. She is currently a managing director for Legae La Banareng Farms in Limpopo which focuses on the breeding and production of indigenous cattle, sheep, and goats. She has also ventured into indigenous crop development and research in the Western Cape where she operates Black Sheep Agribusiness with the aim to commercialise indigenous crops. Thato has served in various leadership positions and is an advocate for social development in the agrifood sector and advises the Presidency and African Farmers Association South Africa.


    Liza Bohlmann

    Chairperson of the Agricultural Writers SA
    Liza Bohlmann is currently the national and regional (North) chairperson of the Agricultural Writers SA – an association of journalists and media practitioners specialising in the agricultural media and communications industry

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    She is also the communications business partner for Bayer Crop Science, responsible for media liaison, driving the communications strategy, and providing industry-related communications insights to the Crop Science division. Prior to her role in corporate communications, Liza worked at Landbouweekblad, South Africa’s largest magazine for the agricultural industry, where she held the position of Assistant Editor: Commercial. She has a national diploma in journalism from Tshwane University of Technology and also worked as a reporter in the local and regional press. She has been a qualified journalist since 1999 and has 14 years of experience in the agricultural media sphere. Since specialising in agricultural journalism, she has developed a passion for telling the stories of farmers and the ag industry. One of her aims is to help farmers to better understand the often complex concepts behind new products, research, and technology through easy-to-understand communication.
  • DR

    Ayanda Maqhashu

    University of Pretoria, lecturer: animal reproduction physiology
    Dr Ayanda Maqhashu is an animal physiology lecturer in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP). She obtained her bachelor’s degree in livestock and pasture sciences cum laude from the University of Fort Hare, following it up with a master’s degree in animal sciences two years later from the same university.

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    Dr Maqhashu went on to earn her PhD in animal sciences from the University of the Free State. She worked at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) as a junior researcher in the section for Germplasm Conservation and Reproduction Biotechnologies before joining UP. Her research is focused on reproduction physiology of both male and female livestock species and application of assisted reproductive biotechnologies such as artificial insemination, oestrous synchronisation, semen and embryo cryopreservation, and in vitro embryo production. She has published 10 peer-reviewed scientific papers, presented 28 papers at conferences or symposia. She is also a registered professional animal scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP).



    Evonik Animal Nutrition

    Chantelle Fryer is an animal scientist with a BSc(Agric) degree in animal science and animal physiology from Stellenbosch University. Chantelle started her career in the feed industry in 2003 and has worked for various additive and nutrition companies. 

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    She currently works for Evonik Animal Nutrition, a global leader in amino acid supply and nutrition research. She has a special interest in sustainable animal production and is the lead for Evonik’s sustainability projects in the region. Chantelle specialises in poultry nutrition and works with various key stakeholders in Southern Africa to develop new products and nutrition concepts. She also plays an active role within the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA) as the vice chair of the technical committee and regularly addresses students on the topic of sustainability and the continued relevance of animal science in solving global food demands.



    Freelance Animal Scientist
    Dr Pieter Henning has been involved in the South African livestock industry since 1980, when he started out as a young researcher with the Animal and Dairy Science Research Institute, Irene. He obtained a PhD in Animal Nutrition from the University of Pretoria in 1990 and continued to work as a research scientist in ruminant nutrition at the Agricultural Research Council. 

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    From 2001, he was the research and development manager at KK Animal Nutrition and MS Biotech, before becoming technical executive - ruminants at Meadow Feeds in 2011. In March 2020 he retired and now works as a freelance animal scientist who specialises in the research and development process. Dr Henning is passionate about the art of scientific investigation and the craft of technical writing. He can be contacted at


#day 1

Applying Improv to All Aspects of Web Development
Jordan Belfort
SEO in 2017: Identifying Strategies to Boost Results
Robin Wright


Evaluating the Accessibility of Websites with Free Plugins and Web-Based Tools
Nassim Taleb

#day 2

How to Leverage your Soft Skills into Hard Opportunities
Jack Welch


Demystifying the Domain Registration
Steve Forbes


Animal science communication: Is it reliable? Is it relevant? Is it responsible?”
There is a well-known saying that communication is key, but how many animal scientists really take that to heart when we discuss our business with the general public? Many modern-day consumers have little or no farming knowledge, but they care how their food is produced and don’t always trust the information that is provided. This makes communication difficult. For example, how does one explain a perceived inhumane practice such as removing a dairy calf from its dam after birth, or branding and castrating beef calves, to someone whose opinion is based on imagining how they would feel in the animal’s place? In addition, publishing a research paper in an academic journal often does not influence an audience beyond other professionals in the industry unless it is accompanied by press releases or social media posts aimed at the general public.

It can be tempting to leave consumer communication to those with formal training or to a young intern who is comfortable with social media, but ultimately, the sustainability of the livestock industry is not only reliant on continuing economic and environmental viability, but also on social acceptability, and consumer acceptance can only be maintained and improved into the future by improving communication.

While it certainly is not necessary, or even possible, to satisfy each and every whim of every consumer, if we don’t listen to consumer demands and either alleviate their concerns or adjust our systems accordingly, producers will run the risk of losing market share to other, more socially acceptable options, including plant-based foods.

This congress will include excellent speakers from industry, academia, and the general public, so get ready for some lively debates. In addition, the poster session will showcase the latest local research from various research and educational institutions.

The preliminary programme will be published as soon as possible.


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