University of New Brunswick

UNB Alumni News Spring 2017

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| FEATURE story | L isa Pfister (BScEng'16, MTME'17) has created a technology that has the potential to forever change the equine breeding industry. Pfister, a graduate of UNB's technology management and entrepreneurship (TME) program, grew up around horses, watching her mother ride, but never took an interest in them herself. It wasn't until age 12 when she rode for the first time that everything changed. "As soon as I got on the horse, I thought okay, this is pretty cool, I think I'll do it." When the mare she had been riding began to near the end of its sport horse career, Pfister became interested in the idea of breeding. By 2014, her mares had their first set of foals. To learn more, she decided to take a job as a summer breeding intern on Prince Edward Island. "It was a bit different considering I was doing civil engineering the other eight months of the year," she says. She learned that mares usually gestate between 320 and 370 days, making foal watch an important part of the job. One of the ways to estimate a due date is through testing the pregnant mares milk. Typically, this is done using test strips and then comparing them to a colour chart – much like in a chemistry class. "It is scientifically proven that you've got certain chemistry levels in the milk that go up or down depending on how close they are to giving birth and that's how you predict when it will actually happen," says Pfister. Another method is to sew a device into the horse that triggers an alarm when they begin to give birth. Pfister tried this method, but when the mare began giving birth the alarm did not go off and the foal was upside down. If she hadn't been on site, both the mare and the foal could have died. After that experience she thought, "there must be a better way." It was her engineering mind that inspired her to keep a record of milk tests and birth dates and she began to notice trends in the data. With that information, she was able to create an algorithm that lead to the inception of PFERA Inc. LISA PFISTER'S NEW TECHNOLOGY WILL HELP TO MORE ACCURATELY PREDICT BIRTHING IN MARES » Changing 31 ALUMNI NEWS

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