Monitoring individual cow nutritional status
Dr Mizeck Chagunda
Life on a busy family farm in south west Scotland meant that I was exposed to agriculture from an early age. This led me to study for a Bachelor of Science in Applied Animal Science, at the then Scottish Agricultural College, from which I graduated, with First Class Honours, in July 2012. During the course of my studies I enjoyed modules relating to livestock management, with a particular interest in nutrition developing.
My honours project involved the evaluation of a commercially available device, as a means of early detection of lameness in dairy cattle. Data for my project was collected at the SRUC Dairy Research Centre in Dumfries.
Following a temporary summer job with the Scottish Government as an Agricultural Officer, I commenced my PhD in October 2012. I am based at the Dairy Research Centre and am working on a project to develop a tool to monitor the nutritional status of dairy cattle, which is of relevance to commercial farming. Advances in technology mean that a number of indicators of animal state and performance can be reliably measured and recorded on a time series basis, at farm level. However, the true value of this data cannot be realised unless it is transformed in such a way that it provides biologically meaningful features, allowing the ‘status’ of the individual animal to be monitored and assessed at any given time. My project seeks to exploit this data for use in herd and cow- level management, with particular reference to nutritional status and how this affects milk production, disease risk and fertility.
As well as my research project I have a keen interest in educating the public and informing farmers on the latest developments in dairy science, something which I hope to incorporate into my future career.
Address: Future Farming Systems, SRUC Dairy Research Centre, Hestan House, Dumfries DG1 4TA
Telephone: 01387 263 961