Applications are now open to become a farmer co-researcher in AgriSearch's latest exciting dairy colostrum project.

Working with research partners AFBI, Queen's University Belfast, Dale Farm and Devenish Nutrition, the project aims to recruit 30 dairy farms from across Northern Ireland to participate in the study which is funded by the Agri-Food Quest Competence Centre.

Colostrum is rich in nutritional, antimicrobial and growth properties which are essential for the stimulation of the immune system of the newborn calf. Good quality colostrum should contain at least 50g/litre IgG alongside adequate fat, protein, vitamin and mineral levels to support calf health and development.

Recent research at AFBI has shown major variation in the quantity and quality of colostrum produced as a result of differing management practices and animal factors (dam age, breed and parity). Current UK guidelines recommend feeding 2 to 4 litres colostrum to the newborn calf within 6 hours of birth due to the rapid decline in IgG concentration relative to the time of collection and storage temperature. Producers often require additional colostrum for newborn calves during the calving period. Whilst colostrum replacer products are available, the utilization of these products by UK or EU producers is somewhat limited as they are not considered to provide the same benefits as natural colostrum. This often results in surplus colostrum been stored frozen for future use by farmers.

Previous studies have largely focused on IgG levels with little or no investigation of the many other immune and bioactive components present within colostrum. This project seeks to investigate both the immune activating properties exhibited by colostrum and how dairy cow management influences immune and bioactive component levels within colostrum.

Applications are being sought from interested dairy farmers. These farmers will be required to collect colostrum samples from second and third calving cows within 12 hours post-calving. Details of forage (grass &/or silage etc.) and concentrates fed to cows will also be recorded and monitored as part of the project.

An application form and information pack can be downloaded by using the links below:

Information for interested dairy farmers

Farmer Application Form

If you have any specific queries then contact either Elizabeth Earle (AgriSearch) on 028 9268 1514 or Ruth Kinkead (AFBI) on 028 9268 1524