A Writtle College lecturer has visited the US to learn more about their large scale dairy farms.
Dr Nicola Blackie, Senior Lecturer in Animal Science (Livestock Production and Welfare), is researching the influence of lameness on the feeding and lying behaviour of Holstein dairy cows. As part of this, she visited Kentucky to see how farmers are developing their facilities and managing their herds to tackle the challenge of growth, while maximising cow welfare and production.
Nicola, who is Course Scheme Manager for the undergraduate programmes in Agriculture at Writtle College, went to the American Dairy Association Conference and was the keynote speaker at the Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange after winning a bursary from the Farmers Club Charitable Trust – one of only five recipients of the bursary nationally.
The Kentuckiana is an annual dairy exchange arranged through the University of Kentucky and Purdue in Indiana. It sees producers from both states join together for a number of farm visits and presentations over the course of two days.
Nicola visited five central Kentucky farms, which were selected to showcase their management, low somatic cell counts, innovation and production.
At the Dairy Exchange, she presented her work on improving the way cattle are ‘mobility scored’. By developing a better system to assess cattle’s mobility based on objective measurements, Nicola aims to give dairy farmers the tools to detect developing lameness early, therefore ultimately improving the welfare of the cows and giving farmers the ability to plan their facilities and manage their cattle as their farms increase in size.