Dairy farmers could be given early notifications on cow health and wellbeing problems before they affect performance, thanks to a new European project.
Along with major dairy organisations in north west Europe, National Milk Records (NMR) is participating in the HappyMoo project, which will use machine learning to develop links between milk sample data and conditions seen in the cow.
“Results from milk samples tested through NMR’s mid-infrared machines in the laboratory from cows with a particular condition, such as lameness or mastitis, or body condition changes will be compared with those that don’t show these conditions,” says NMR service development manager Martin Busfield.
“Patterns that emerge will help to identify, through the milk sample, cows with a particular condition and can then be used to provide valuable management information for farmers.”
The 42-month project will use milk spectral data from partners in Germany, France, Belgium and Ireland, allowing data to be compared across all participants to build accurate and reliable predictions.
Looking further ahead, the project will also explore wellbeing factors such as hunger and stress, using research farms and university units to carry out further testing on body condition scores. The tests relate to energy balance and hunger, and on hair sample tests to detect stress hormone cortisol.
“Again, milk samples will be tested from animals exhibiting these conditions and compared with those not affected,” Mr Busfield added.
“The more milk samples we have for each parameter, the more reliable the milk spectral patterns will be. The aim is to be able to integrate this information as part of the milk recording service, providing farmers with an early and non-intrusive cow health and welfare screen.”
Mr Busfield will be presenting the project at a series of regional NMR roadshows. Contact NMR on 03330 043 043 for more information.