AFBI Research in Support of the Local Dairy Sector Highlighted at Winter Fair

Date published: 30 November 2017

The RUAS Winter Fair will be held on Thursday 14th December at Eikon Complex, Maze, Lisburn. AFBI researchers will be on hand at Stand EK58 to highlight the current range of topical research projects and issues.

Controlling Production Costs

With the costs of many inputs increasing, a relentless approach to improving the overall efficiency of all aspects of milk production is essential for long term survival in the dairy industry.  AFBI researchers will be on hand at this year’s Winter Fair to highlight the range of current topical research projects and issues including latest developments on:

  • Calf and heifer rearing to optimise lifetime performance
  • Optimum concentrate feed rates this winter
  • Alternative feeds in situations of silage shortage
  • Zero Grazing – latest results from Hillsborough

In addition, there will be a special focus on outcomes of the 2017 GrassCheck project, with a demonstration examining the impact of soil compaction and sward quality on grass growth. 

AFBI researchers will also be available to discuss a number of new research projects that are due to commence in the coming months, including minimising antibiotic usage, reducing ammonia emissions, the development of new technologies to measure grass growth, and strategies to optimise performance within feed-to-yield systems.  The latter project will be conducted on 30 commercial dairy farms, so if you are interested in getting involved, please make yourself known to AFBI staff at the Winter Fair.

Many of the research projects being presented by AFBI have been co-funded by AgriSearch through the ‘dairy levy’ so please come along to the AFBI stand to discuss how the dairy levy is invested to secure a profitable future for dairy farmers in Northern Ireland.

AFBI Animal Disease Diagnostics

AFBI offers a comprehensive range of farm animal diagnostic tests which complements the post-mortem examination service offered from both the AFBI Omagh and AFBI Stormont sites. Surveillance for notifiable, zoonotic (transmissible to humans) and emerging diseases forms an important part of this work. Specialist advice on animal diseases is given to herd keepers and the veterinary profession, supporting and promoting the competitiveness of the local agri-food industry. These services underpin the safeguarding of animal and public health in Northern Ireland and legal requirements for trade.

AFBI Cattle Health Scheme

AFBI offers a Cattle Health Scheme to provide programmes for the monitoring, control and eradication of endemic diseases, working closely with herd owners and their veterinary surgeons. The scheme also provides certification when a herd meets the agreed cattle health standards. These programmes are for the five most important non-statutory diseases that are prevalent in both beef and dairy herds in Northern Ireland: Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD); Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR); Leptospirosis; Johne’s Disease; and Neosporosis.

Neosporosis is the most commonly diagnosed cause of infectious abortion in dairy herds in the UK and was the cause of 7.1% of abortions in Northern Ireland in 2016. There are no vaccines or licensed treatments available so control of the disease is based on identification of infected animals and implementation of relevant farm management practices. Come along to the AFBI stand (EK58) to hear how joining the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme can help tackle these important endemic diseases.

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