Duration 5 years - commencing September 2004
Team and Leader Drs Niamh O'Connell, Alistair Carson, Maurice McCoy and David Logue (SAC)
Organisations Involved ARINI, VSD and SAC Auchincruive.
Background and Summary
Lameness costs Northern Ireland producers approximately £10m per year (£2000 per herd), which equates to 10% of the variable cost of milk production. This cost is due to reduced fertility and milk yield, increased culling rates and treatment costs. Key factors contributing to lameness are difficulties detecting and treating problems at an early stage.
These difficulties may be related to time constraints on farm, or difficulty in identifying the cause of the problem. It is vital that these factors are elucidated in order to target relevant research and advisory programs. It is also vital to investigate fundamental factors leading to the development of lameness. A large dataset is available at ARINI on the effect of different management regimes on the development of lameness in dairy cows. These data include hooves from 100 heifers reared on different nutritional regimes, which are available for dissection. The proposed research involves using these resources at Hillsborough to gain a better understanding of factors predisposing cattle to lameness. Dr David Logue (SAC) has been involved in previous MDC-funded studies and brings valuable additional expertise to the project team.
September 2004 study commences.
Year 1 - Collate raw data available at ARINI and begin dissection work
Year 2 - Continue disection work and commence analysis of data from ARINI work
Year 3 - Analyse data from ARINI work
Year 4 - Complete analysis and produce scientific papers
Year 5 - Complete analysis and produce scientific papers
(a) A clear vision of how to reduce lameness and associated problems in Northern Ireland dairy herds
(b) Creating a "welfare-friendly" image within the dairy industry by funding dedicated welfare research