AgriSearch will once again have a stand at the Winter Fair along with Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland.
As always it will feature results from the latest research and a number of farmers’ booklets will be available, including a user’s guide to BovIS and the final results of the BVD prevalence study.
In addition, AgriSearch will feature the new growth monitoring tool available on BovIS (Bovine Information System) through the DARD rural portal. This can be used to track the performance of a wide variety of stock, including dairy heifers, enabling comparisons to be made against known targets. .
To encourage farmers to avail of this tool AgriSearch will be giving out 200 dairy heifer weight bands. All we ask in return is that farmers complete a short survey aimed at identifying areas AgriSearch should prioritise for future dairy research.
AgriSearch’s Global Research Officer, Dr Gareth Arnott, will also be in attendance to discuss the interim findings of his desktop research examining confinement and zero-grazing systems.
Amanda Dunn, from Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh has been awarded AgriSearch funding to undertake a PhD project on ‘The Development of Immunocompetence in suckled beef and dairy calves.’
This three year study will produce best practice guidelines for calf rearing on Northern Ireland farms that will ensure livestock performance and animal welfare targets are met. Due to major advances made over recent years in genetics, technology and nutrition the way calves are reared has an ever greater impact on the profitability of dairy and beef enterprises.
Amanda, whose considerable practical farming experience includes working on a large dairy goat unit at Brookeborough, undertakes this AgriSearch study supervised by Dr Steven Morrison at AFBI, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough.
A farmers’ booklet on transition cow feeding has just been published by AgriSearch. This reports the results of one part of a major Research Challenge Fund study.
The study involved 1,217 dairy cows on ten Northern Ireland dairy farms over a two year period. Cows were managed on one of three treatments during the dry period:
- Concentrates offered for the full 8 weeks of the dry period
- Concentrates offered for the final 3 weeks of the dry period
- No concentrates offered during the dry period
For cows managed on high input systems the results of the study support the recommendation of a target condition score at drying off of 2.75. Cows with a condition score greater than 3.0 at drying off are likely to have lower intakes and may have more health problems during the subsequent lactation. This target condition score (2.75) may not be appropriate for cows managed on low input systems.
The COWS industry group (www.cattleparasites.org.uk) is urging beef and dairy farmers to consider the risk of liver fluke infection this autumn and, if indicated, to treat cattle appropriately. Risk factors include a previous history of fluke infection on the farm or farm of origin and grazing wet areas of pasture or near muddy areas, such as poached ground near gateways and troughs. Abattoir feedback provides very clear evidence of liver fluke infection, whereas diagnostic tests on blood and, on dairy farms, bulk milk tank samples can test for evidence of exposure and tests on dung will only work if adult fluke are present.