Advances in mastitis detection are an ‘udder' coup for Cork

August 15th, 2017 8:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

This two-year research project will be undertaken by Tyndall National Institute at UCC.

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Mastitus testing in milking cows looks set to be revolutionised by a Cork-based research project.

MASTITIS testing in milking cows looks set to be revolutionised by a Cork-based research  project. 

The County Council and Science Foundation Ireland Connect Research Centre will jointly fund a €150,000 project which will radically improve detection of the  infection. 

This two-year research project will be undertaken by Tyndall National Institute at UCC. Mastitis is considered a priority disease in Ireland and in other dairy-producing countries due to its impact on milk quality and animal welfare.  The effects of mastitis on dairy cows are lower milk yields, quality production losses, sick cows and associated veterinary costs all of which have a negative impact on overall farm profitability.  A recent analysis has shown that a reduction of 10% in national somatic cell count would be worth over €37m to the Irish dairy industry.

The objective of the project is to design and test an in-line sensing device to detect mastitis in milk using advanced nanosensor technologies.  A prototype will be integrated into a milking machine and configured to sample each quarter of the udder.

Tyndall has world-leading design and fabrication expertise and will avail of their electrochemical sensing technology developed with previous projects, at both National and European level, laying a solid foundation for this project.

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine said: ‘This is a great example of how research organisations, public bodies, businesses and farmers can unite to devise innovative and impactful solutions to a practical animal health issue. Working collaboratively, the organisations involved are delivering a solution for farmers that will not only have a local impact but can deliver real change on a national and ultimately assisting our export driven dairy sector at a global level, in dealing with the issue of mastitis in milking cows. The research and agricultural strengths of the Cork region are being harnessed through this project, finding a solution to a costly dairy herd disease and I commend all involved in driving this project forward.'

Mayor of County Cork Declan Hurley, himself a dairy farmer said he knew only  too well the effects of mastitis both from a welfare and economic perspective: ‘Any advances with early detection of this infection would be welcomed by the dairy industry all over the world.'

Alan O'Riordan, research fellow at Tyndall, explained that Tyndall's track record in developing ICT solutions had enabled this opportunity. ‘We're delighted to be involved in developing new ways for early stage detection of mastitis that will lead to the reduced use of antibiotics and reduced losses in milk production.'

Chief executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey welcomed their first project with Connect and Tyndall National Institute and looked forward to future opportunities for cooperation in the Smart Agri field. 

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