Five hundred British milk producers will join a four-year project that uses data from milk tests to measure key health characteristics in cows. A key aim of the project is to use this data to develop tools for improving production efficiency.

The project has been developed by NMR in partnership with Marks & Spencer and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

“The project will investigate the relationships between these profiles and aspects of cow health and performance. And from this we hope that new prediction tools can be developed for key parameters such as pregnancy, methane production and acidosis.”
Rachel Williams, NMR project manager

Twenty milk producers who supply Marks & Spencer have also been recruited to take part in more detailed milk testing and data collection for individual cows. This will include information on weight changes, condition scores and feeding systems and will be collected four times a year.

More specifically, the project will carry out mid-infra-red tests on NMR milk samples to establish fatty acid profiles, said NMR’s project manager, Rachel Williams. “The project will investigate the relationships between these profiles and aspects of cow health and performance. And from this we hope that new prediction tools can be developed for key parameters such as pregnancy, methane production and acidosis.”

In addition, the saturated fatty acid data may be able to deliver health benefits to milk and dairy products for human consumption.

More on this topic

Keep up to date with all the latest dairy news by subscribing to Dairy Update. The new digital edition has just come out and includes a housing special. Register for your free Dairy Update digital edition now

Sarah Trickett on G+