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Automatic ovulation prediction in diary cows - LS2401

The aim of this project is to build and test a practical sensing system to predict ovulation in dairy cows automatically. The objectives are first to prepare a specification for the final system and a set of benchmark tests for the repeatability and robustness of the biosensor techniques. Secondly to improve the assay to reduce its cycle time below 10 minutes and to ensure that interferences in fresh milk are overcome. Thirdly to build a laboratory based system for validation with fresh milk samples. Fourthly to install and test the system over a long period in field trails. The field system will predict over 80% of ovulation in the second or third cycle post partum in 25 diary cows with 90% sensitivity and will detect fertility problems in affected cows.

Finally the system will be demonstrated to farmers and a pro-active approach will be taken with industry to ensure that this key technology for dairy cow monitoring is taken up.

The objectives will be achieved by a partnership with the University of the West of England to adapt their screen-printed amperometric batch system to a flow through system. The project will be managed by a committee including senior technical staff from industry to ensure that the final deliverables can be commercialised successfully for the benefit of the UK.

Developing integrated monitoring systems for agriculture was identified as part as MAFF research strategy 1999-2001. The fertility of dairy cows has been declining and progestrone monitoring has been shown to be an effective method of reducing calving intervals. Hand operated methods of collecting milk samples and measuring progesterone with a test kit are too labour intensive to have a wide application. Biosensing applied to dairy cow monitoring is fully compatible with organic farming and will improve animal welfare and reduce environmental damage. It will be a key technology in developing a knowledge based dairy cow economy.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Automatic Ovulation Prediction for Dairy Cows   (147k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1999

To: 2002

Cost: £329,582
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Silsoe Research Institute (BBSRC)
Livestock Farming              
Fields of Study