CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications, has partnered with Cork County Council to carry out research on the testing of mastitis in milking cows. The €150,000 project will last for two years and will be carried out in Tyndall National Institute at UCC.
Mastitis is an infection and inflammation of the udder. It is considered a priority disease due to its impact on milk quality and animal welfare. Mastitis causes lower milk yields, quality production losses, sick cows and associated veterinary costs all of which have a negative impact on overall farm profitability. A recent analysis has shown that a reduction of 10% in national somatic cell count would be worth over €37 million to the Irish dairy industry.
The objective of the project is to design and test an in-line sensing device to detect mastitis in milk using advanced nanosensor technologies. A prototype will be integrated into a milking machine and configured to sample each quarter of the udder.
Tyndall's electrochemical sensing technology and its design and fabrication expertise will be used in the project.
Alan O’Riordan, CONNECT Funded Investigator at Tyndall, said:
“We’re delighted to be involved in developing new ways for early stage detection of mastitis that will lead to the reduced use of antibiotics and reduced losses in milk production. By further developing Tyndall’s nanosensor technology suite we’re not only addressing an Irish problem but a key global issue.”
The project was welcomed by Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who commented:
“This is a great example of how research organizations, public bodies, businesses and farmers can unite to devise innovative and impactful solutions to a practical animal health issue. Working collaboratively, the organisations involved are delivering a solution for farmers that will not only have a local impact but can deliver real change on a national and ultimately assisting our export driven dairy sector at a global level, in dealing with the issue of mastitis in milking cows. The research and agricultural strengths of the Cork region are being harnessed through this project, finding a solution to a costly dairy herd disease and I commend all involved in driving this project forward.”
Mayor of County Cork, Cllr. Declan Hurley noted:
“As a dairy farmer I know only too well the effects of mastitis both from a welfare and economic perspective. Any advances with early detection of this infection would be welcomed by the dairy industry all over the world.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey welcomed its first project with CONNECT and Tyndall National Institute and looked forward to future opportunities for cooperation in the SMART Agri field. He also highlighted the prospects of this project noting that,
“the economic benefits to our dairy industry of a SMART in-line device to detect early onset Mastitis would be enormous. It would contribute to reducing the rate of infection, increasing milk production, saving on feed and herd test costs and help maintain premium cell count levels".