Helping British dairy farms maintain their global competitive position

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have been awarded a further £1.7m in funding for a major research programme to help British dairy farms maintain a globally competitive position.

The research will be undertaken as a joint project between the University’s School of Biosciences and its School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. Together, they are number one in the UK for research in this field and their research has high impact — in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) all four impact cases in Dairy Science were judged to be world-leading.

In 2011, the Nottingham scientists formed a research partnership with AHDB Dairy and embarked on a five-year programme of cutting-edge research on herd welfare, diet, grazing, health and disease — delivering the benefits of that research direct to British dairy farmers. This successful partnership has been extended for a further five years.

Phil Garnsworthy, Professor of Dairy Science in the School of Biosciences, is leading the research partnership. He said: “We are delighted that AHDB Dairy has chosen to extend our partnership for a further five years. The first five years have been very productive, and we have collectively provided lots of novel information that dairy farmers can use to improve their businesses. Research often generates new questions, however, and we propose to address those areas that will have the biggest impact on efficiency, health and welfare of dairy cows.”

The ‘Health, Welfare and Nutrition’ partnership, led by The University of Nottingham, also includes Harper Adams University and the Royal Veterinary College. AHDB Dairy is a levy-funded, not-for-profit organisation working on behalf of Britain’s dairy farmers.

Academics aim to continue programmes to ensure the health, welfare and nutritional status of the national dairy herd is maintained to world class standards, improving the efficiency of milk production on British dairy farms and enabling the industry to compete in the global market.

The research partnership programme will make extensive use of the newly-expanded dairy research facilities at Nottingham, which include a new building for nutritional studies, and a flexible-housing facility for studying the space and welfare requirements of dairy cows. The £6m expansion, funded jointly by Innovate UK and The University of Nottingham, recognises Nottingham as the dairy lead in the national Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL).

Ray Keatinge, AHDB Head of Animal Science said: “We have found the Research Partnership approach to be particularly effective, delivering good value to the industry. While AHDB Dairy spending on R&D has been reduced, to accommodate expenditure on other areas such as market development, our ongoing relationship with The University of Nottingham has meant that we can jointly develop new research work focussed on updated priorities set by our Board.”

Jim Baird, Nether Affleck Farm, and Chairman of the AHDB Dairy Research and Development Advisory Forum (RADAF), said: “Independent, well-targeted R&D is essential to maintaining our competitiveness. This is the underlying driver for RADAF. But potential benefits can only be realised when good research is put into commercial practice.”

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