Nottingham University gains new state-of-the-art dairy research centre

AFTP partner, the University of Nottingham, has opened a new Centre for Dairy Science Innovation at its Sutton Bonington campus. The state-of-the-art extension to the University’s dairy facilities offers the latest research technologies for studying a range of dairy-related topics including mastitis control, antimicrobial resistance, feed efficiency, environmental emissions, and wearable technologies.

The new facility increases the size of the University’s herd from 240 to 360. Results of the research will help British dairy farms maintain a globally competitive position.

The Centre is jointly funded by the University, the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and Innovate UK as part of the UK’s Agri-Tech Strategy.

Long-term dairy research projects

Researchers from the University’s Schools of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine and Science will work alongside industry to develop new solutions with the aim of delivering improved food quality and farming systems.

Studies into nutritional sciences will be led by Professor Phil Garnsworthy, Head of Division of Animal Sciences and Professor of Dairy Science in the School of Biosciences. His research into dairy science has a particular emphasis on nutrition.

Up to 100 individually-fed, high-yielding dairy cows and heifers will test the effect of a range of diets on milk production and composition, feed intake and live-weight change. Professor Garnsworthy’s current research projects also include:

  • Feed efficiency and sustainability of dairy systems

  • Variation in methane emissions by individual dairy cows measured on-farm

  • Nutritive value of co-products from the bioethanol industry

  • Rumen function in relation to the microbiome, the cow genome, and digestive efficiency

  • Manipulation of milk fatty acid profile by nutrition and genetics

  • Nutritional strategies for enhancing dairy cow fertility

Professor Garnsworthy said: “This state-of-the-art facility will increase our capacity for nutritional studies that span the full spectrum from the molecular level to the applied level. Our aim is to find practical ways to increase the efficiency of dairy systems while reducing environmental impacts.”

Improving cow welfare and preventing disease

The Centre will focus on emerging technologies to prevent disease and improve cow welfare. A unique flexible housing facility for two groups of around 30 animals will allow researchers to evaluate the impact of the environment on the health, welfare and physiology of housed dairy cows. It will be possible to test the effects of building layout, access to indoor and outdoor loafing space, feed space and bedding on cow physiology, production, health, welfare and economics.

Researchers are also studying whether technologies such as wearable and bolus sensors connected through the internet could help vets and farmers to more closely monitor cattle and predict disease.

Cutting-edge technologies

The Centre’s Lely Astronaut robotic milking machines enable cows to decide when they are ready to be milked. They go into the milking machine, where motorised brushes clean their teats before laser guided milking cups attach themselves automatically. When milking is finished, the cows’ udders are disinfected again before leaving the machine.

Small robot ‘scrapers’ will patrol the floor of the facility on a programmed route, slowly weaving their way around hooves and maintaining the general hygiene by pushing waste through specially-designed concrete slats in the ground, returning periodically to their stations to re-charge.

Related AFTP Courses

The AFTP offers a wide variety of flexible training courses, built with your career in mind. Ranging from one-day workshops, online distance learning and short courses through to postgraduate programmes including PGDip, PGCert, MSc and Research Degrees; our training themes span the entire agrifood sector. Courses starting in September include:

Sustainable Grassland Systems starts 12 September 2018

Ruminant Nutrition starts 12 September 2018

Ruminant Health and Welfare starts 13 September 2018

Note: Image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the Nottingham Dairy Research Centre

For more information about our short courses, contact us on 0330 333 4530.

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