AFBI showcases latest research and dairy herd health testing at RUAS Winter Fair

Date published: 23 November 2016

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will once again participate in this year’s RUAS Winter Fair with a key focus on research and testing to support the Northern Ireland dairy industry.

AFBI Scientists will be available for consultation at the DAERA Stand at the RUAS Winter Fair, Thursday 8th November 9-5pm.

Latest Research

Scientists from AFBI Hillsborough will feature both new and on-going dairy research projects. These include the impact of adding field beans in dairy cow diets and ongoing research on zero-grazing and improved heifer rearing strategies, optimum grazing strategies and the role of precision technologies.

Up to date results from this year’s silage analysis provided by the Hillsborough Feeding and Information System will also be presented.  This provides an accurate and reliable service for the local dairy sector, with forage analysis essential to ensure accurate feed rationing this winter.

AFBI Cattle Health Scheme

The highly successful AFBI Cattle Health Scheme, now in its 9th year aims to monitor, control and eradicate a number of endemic diseases, through 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 prevalent in both beef and dairy herds in the UK and Ireland; namely Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), Leptospirosis, Johne’s Disease and most recently Neosporosis. Neosporosis is the most commonly diagnosed cause of infectious abortion in dairy herds in the UK. 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.

BVD Eradication Programme

Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is one of the most important diseases of cattle and is caused by the bovine viral diarrhoea virus. The current eradication programme is based on the testing of ear notch samples collected by farmers as part of the official tagging process.  Over 60% of samples taken for BVD analysis in Northern Ireland are analysed by AFBI.  The programme is designed to identify calves persistently infected (PI) with BVD virus as soon as possible after birth to stop them spreading the infection. AFBI has long-standing expertise in BVD and is supporting the local industry by providing advice and support for the programme at different levels. For example, AFBI’s research has improved the local knowledge on BVD and has influenced the design of the BVD eradication programme.  In addition, AFBI is the only designated laboratory based in Northern Ireland and uses the latest testing technologies to provide fast and reliable results.  The testing is accredited to the international ISO 17025 standard and the results are reported by qualified vets who are available for consultation.

Soil status and selection of Grass and Clover Varieties

Scientists from AFBI will be available to discuss new improved grass and clover varieties and the importance of getting the soil status right, before and during reseeding and to optimise pasture growth. Grazed grass is the cheapest feed for dairy cattle and by sowing the “best” grass varieties farmers can maximise the economic benefits of producing milk from forage. Better quality grasses in swards will lead to increased profit margins by reducing the cost of production. Inclusion of clover varieties to grass swards can substantially increase protein content and utilisation, and reduce nitrogen use.

Latest New Grass Variety from AFBI

AFBI, along with its commercial partner, Barenbrug, will also announce the release of the latest high yielding perennial ryegrass variety, Glenarm at the Winter Fair. This new late diploid perennial ryegrass will be available for use on local farms in 2017. Glenarm is the latest addition to the extensive portfolio of high performance varieties which have been bred by AFBI, specifically for use on local farms.  Please call at the Barenbrug stand at the Winter Fair if you require any further information.

Reducing Costs and Protecting the Environment – Keynote Seminar

“Post ‘Brexit’, to be successful in the global market place, Northern Ireland milk products will need to be produced cost-effectively and with superior environmental credentials. Dr John Bailey, Head of Agri-Environmental Research in AFBI, will outline new research being undertaken to identify low-cost, minimalist ‘on-farm’ interventions aimed at reducing phosphorus (P) loss to water, whilst reducing milk production costs and significantly improving regional water quality.  This research has the dual goals of enhancing the environment and giving NI producers a credible and laudable marketing advantage over European rivals.  The Seminar will be presented at 11am in the Seminar Area.

The Winter Fair will be held at the Eikon Centre, Balmoral Park in Lisburn on Thursday 8th December, 9-5pm.

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DARD and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.

AFBI's Vision is “Scientific excellence in Northern Ireland … serving the world”.

All media enquiries to AFBI Press Office

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