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    Animal Science Research Centre

    Dairy, Heifer and Calf Research Group

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    Why is dairy, heifer and calf research important?

    The overarching mission of the dairy, heifer and calf research group is to improve the sustainability and profitability of dairy farming, both within the UK and internationally, by increasing the technical performance, reducing the environmental impact, and improving the health and welfare of dairy cattle from calves through to milking cows.

    To achieve this the group undertakes research studies in the areas of dairy cow, heifer and calf nutrition, welfare and health. These research programs encompass a broad range from applied feeding studies that monitor calf and cow performance and health, to more fundamental metabolism studies that provide a better understanding of the underlying biological processed. Particular areas of expertise include in vitro rumen fermentation, dairy cow nutrition, home-grown forage and grazing management, methane reduction, mineral, fatty acid, and protein metabolism, rumen metabolism and the microbiome, dairy cow fertility, and calf nutrition, health and welfare. Studies also focus on improving the health attributes of dairy products like milk and cheese, which can be extended into shelf life and organoleptic properties. 

    Our expertise

    Within the group there is a wealth of experience and expertise across a wide array of disciplines including dairy cow nutrition, forage management, milk quality, calf management, and animal health and behaviour.

    Specific areas of expertise include:

    • In vitro rumen metabolism and the microbiome.
    • Calf management, nutrition and welfare.
    • Forage management, ensiling and mycotoxins.
    • Grazing management, supplementation and methane production.
    • Dairy cow nutrition in trace and major minerals, fatty acids and protein.
    • Precision technologies to improve dairy cow, heifer and calf nutrition and management.
    • Rumen metabolism, microbiome and methane production in dairy cows.
    • Milk and cheese quality and organoleptic properties.

    What can we do for you?

    The group is actively engaged in a range of research programmes including the following:

    • In vitro studies to investigate the fermentation of feeds and additives with a focus on nutrient digestibility, the microbiome and methane production.
    • Measurement of methane production in dairy cows using 4 x GreenFeed units.
    • Individual feeding and performance of 60 cows, including comprehensive milk and blood analysis.
    • Nutrient balance, whole tract digestibility, rumen fermentation and microbiome studies.
    • Forage ensiling, additives, mycotoxins and grazing studies.
    • Conducting studies involving individually and group-housed calves.

    The animal research is supported by an extensive range of University laboratory facilities that permit feed and forage nutrient analysis, milk analysis, blood metabolites, mineral analysis by ICP-MS, GC analysis of milk and rumen fluid fatty acids, rumen microbiome determination, metabolomic profiles in milk and blood, and in vitro rumen fermentation.

    The group also supports the University undergraduate and post-graduate taught courses including the Diploma in Ruminant Nutrition and  Masters in Ruminant Nutrition, and is involved with several short courses aimed at industry.

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