Project Team: Dr Gareth Arnott (QUB), Stephanie Buijs and Debbie McConnell (AFBI) Background: In Northern Ireland, dairy farming is a key industry with in excess of 2,500 dairy farms, yet increasing herd sizes and reductions in the agricultural workforce have placed an increasing pressure on both national and international labour. In response to this, there has been an increasing uptake of robotic milking systems making use of state of the art technology whereby cattle voluntarily visit an automatic milking machine. Such technologies hold the potential to improve dairy cow welfare and...

Organisations Involved: QUB (Belfast) and Agrisearch Background:  Bovine Mastitis (BM) is an inflammatory condition of the udder, typically caused by the host’s immune response to a microbial infection. This results in impaired herd performance and welfare which presents significant challenges to the dairy industry. BM is the leading cause of economic losses, both directly and indirectly from factors including increased veterinary and labour costs and reduced milk yield and quality. The associated large-scale use of broad-spectrum antibiotics represents a major cause of increasing...

Project Leader: Stephanie Buijs   Project Outline: This project will use an automated thermography system that was recently installed in AFBI’s milking parlour. The +/- 240 dairy cows that are milked in this parlour will pass the system on their way back to the pasture or barn after milking (thus, twice daily). This will be combined with highly regular and systematic observation of clinical signs of disease and injury by trained staff, and with behavioural assays of stress/fear/anxiety. Cross-comparison of thermal data and clinical examination will be used to identify thermal markers for...

Organisations Involved: AFBI (Hillsborough), QUB (Belfast) and AgriSearch Project Duration: 3 years Project Team: Dr Mark Robinson, Dr Jason Barley and Dr Aurelie Aubry Background: Infections by parasitic fluke are an important animal health concern for livestock worldwide. Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) historically has been a major focus for producers. However, in recent years there has been an increase in the incidence of rumen fluke (Paramphistomes), resulting in acute disease and death in young sheep and cattle. The exact reasons for this increase in the incidence of rumen fluke is...

STAMP – Strategic use of Antimicrobials in Dairy, Beef and Lamb Production (RCF-05-2017)
Organisations Involved: AgriSearch, AFBI, AHWNI, LMC, Farm Vet Systems (VetImpress) Funding: DAERA Research Challenge Fund (50%) Background: Antimicrobials have made a major contribution to the health and welfare of cattle. They are vital medicines for the treatment and control of bacterial infections in cattle. All farmers have a responsibility for the health and welfare of the animals on their farm. This is a joint responsibility with their veterinary surgeon to ensure the correct and appropriate use of antimicrobials, including antibiotics. Farmers and stock-keepers can play a major...