Scientists at The University of Nottingham will lead a major new research programme to help British dairy farms maintain a globally competitive position.

The five-year programme, funded with £2.5m from industry body DairyCo, will conduct cutting-edge research on herd welfare, diet, grazing, health and disease – delivering the benefits of that research direct to British dairy farmers.

The Health, Welfare and Nutrition partnership, led by Nottingham, also includes five other institutions: Harper Adams University College, the Royal Veterinary College, Bristol University, the SAC and the University of Aberystwyth.

The partnership will target research on improved diet formulation, trace element supplementation, rumen health, dietary protein levels, and grazing management for high yielding cows.

On health and welfare, new information will be provided on lameness, mastitis, Johne’s disease, guidance on biosecurity and vaccination strategies, best practice for heifer rearing, cow welfare assessment, as well as new industry data on the incidence and prevalence of the major diseases affecting dairy cattle.

The project will mean DairyCo will have a greater body of robust data to provide farmers with practical information to allow them to improve business efficiency and reduce wastage. It will also help producers to reduce production costs and safeguard future milk supplies.

Farmers have been involved in identifying and recommending the research priorities so they can be confident the research fits with what is needed on-farm.

Ray Keatinge, head of research and development at DairyCo, said: “We recognise the importance of continuing technical development to maintaining an efficient, globally competitive and consumer-friendly dairy industry.

“The partnership approach will not only provide new information for dairy farmers, but will help build the UK industry’s capacity to deliver more of this type of research in the future.

Project leader, Phil Garnsworthy, of The University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences, said: “This partnership brings together the top UK institutions for research in dairying, whose combined expertise in the fields of animal health, welfare and nutrition constitutes a world-leading team.”