Mónica Gandarillas, current Director of the Master of Science in Animal Production at the Austral University of Chile, talks about the current challenges of nutrition in monogastric animals in southern Chile and their compatibility within the program.
Millaray Mariqueo, Science in Chile.- Mónica Gandarillas is an Agronomist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC). Once she graduated, she continued -through a pre and postgraduate relationship) with a Master’s Degree in Animal Production, mentioning Nutrition and Physiology, her main area of interest. After working for a year as an assistant professor at PUC, in the aforementioned areas, she decided to pursue her PhD at the same university, which she finished in 2007.
“I realized at Altiro that what I liked the most was animal nutrition and I wanted to go deeper through research with my doctorate. It was a very nice experience, it was successfully achieved in four years, in fact I am the first graduate of the Doctorate program of the Faculty of Agronomy of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
Mónica recounts that after finishing her doctorate and being hired full-time at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, she dedicated herself to teaching Animal Nutrition and pig and poultry production. She worked at PUC as an assistant professor until 2015, when she applied for the same position but in Valdivia.
“It was like a change of scenery, basically my area of research is the nutrition of monogastric animals (poultry, pigs and horses) and I came here 8 years ago, and here I am doing the same as I did there, nothing more than I have changed my lines of action a bit in general”.
In Santiago, because it was close to the pork production centers, Mónica was dedicated to swine nutrition, and to a lesser extent to poultry and horses, but at the Austral University in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and specifically at the Institute of Animal Production, is dedicated more to grazing birds, because it is a place where this activity is developed more at the peasant and industrial level, “deep down, the eggs that come from cage-free systems are becoming increasingly important in the world due to ongoing consumer concerns about animal welfare. In the south of Chile, we have been developing this line of research that finally seeks to promote the use of grasslands or fodder to reduce the high dependence on corn, soybeans and the by-products of the milling industry.
At the same time, there has been a very strong interest in developing a line of horse feed and nutrition. In the last 5 years, we have managed to publish the results of 3 works in this area in high-impact journals. Specifically in the characterization of dietary management and routine care of Chilean horses as well as in vitro digestion models. Today I look to the future with great hope with this line, which I am passionate about”.
Master of Science in Animal Production
The UACh Master’s program, created in 1989, currently has 112 graduates and 8 enrolled. We have an average of 5 students graduating a year, which is very good. The program has had quite a marked success, in its last accreditation it achieved 8 years, which -according to the researcher- was achieved by having a very solid academic body in terms of scientific productivity, infrastructure and first-rate equipment that can respond to the different master theses that the students have. In addition to agronomists, veterinarians enter the program. In recent years we have received students from the US, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua among some.
Currently, and in addition to the traditional scholarships offered in Chile and abroad, this program has 3 own scholarships: the Nestlé scholarship, the Luis Latrille scholarship and the René Anrique scholarship. Some finance maintenance, tuition and fees for two years, such as the Nestlé scholarship, and others tuition and all or part of the fees.
”The great joy of this program is that it achieved eight years of accreditation and today we are in the process of reaccreditation, we already had the visit of peers from the CNA, so the challenge today is to maintain the level, although one always further.
Among the characteristics that the director highlights of the program, there are 3 lines of research: (1) animal nutrition and feeding (ruminant and monogastric animals), (2) Ecophysiology, production and use of fodder and the most recent to implement (3) , but no less important than the quality and differentiation of livestock products.
No less important, and worth noting for our program, is the particular environment of the Los Ríos region and the city of Valdivia itself, which leads us to work hard on livestock based mainly on pastoral systems.
Lastly, the academic maintains that within the program they strongly consider current challenges such as sustainability, both environmental, social and economic.
The program is currently with its closed call since its applications closed on June 30, for our entry from August 2023.