The latest news from DairyCo's R&D managers

Published 26 June 13

Managing Mobility 

DairyCo research manager Dr Jenny Gibbons talks about the latest research projects and your opportunity to find out more at open meetings.

Lame cows give 200 to 600 litres of milk less per lactation, take 20-40 days longer to get into calf and are more likely to be culled. All of which costs money to the farm business.

To date, treatments for lame cows have not been experimentally tested so it is unknown which treatments are the most effective. As part of DairyCo's Research Partnership led by the University of Nottingham, researchers have concentrated so far on investigating the effect of early treatment of claw horn lesions, sole haemorrhage and white line disease. This work is being carried out on five commercial herds in Nottinghamshire.

Fortnightly mobility scoring, using the DairyCo Mobility Score, by research vets on the farms has shown the potential of early intervention. One farm had typical GB average mobility scores with 30% of cows with scoring 2, and 7% with a mobility score of 3.

Score 0 indicates perfect mobility, a score 2 cow has impaired mobility and score 3 means severely impaired mobility. After a year of mobility scoring the herd every fortnight, cows with mobility score 2 decreased to 10% with no score 3 cows.

Dr. Jon Huxley and his team at University of Nottingham are also testing the efficacy of different foot treatments. The four treatments include a trim relevant to the problem; a trim with a block put on the good claw; a trim and three days of anti-inflammatory treatment; and a trim, block and anti-inflammatory treatment.

Results from this trial will be available in the near future but identifying lame cows as soon as they go lame and prioritising them for treatment is key to combating lameness.

At open meetings on reducing lameness, held in North Wales on 26 September and in Scotland on 27 September, as well as at our research open days at Harper Adam's University on 11 September and SRUC on 12 November, Dr. Jon Huxley will be talking about the study which is aiming to provide protocols for the treatment of common causes of lameness and determine the effectiveness of these protocols at reducing lameness.

For more details on the events contact or call 024 7647 8707.


The DairyCo Healthy Feet Programme helps you reduce lameness with a step-wise approach. More information on the programme can be found at


Making the most of your reseed

DairyCo research manager Dr Debbie McConnell looks at the latest developments in grassland research, the new recommended lists, and the considerations to take into account when thinking about reseeding.

With input costs rising, selecting the right grass type and seed mixture for your system and situation is essential for improving grassland performance, in terms of achieving higher yields, increased quality and improved consistency. A  young perennial ryegrass ley can achieve up to 33% more dry matter (DM) yield in its first year compared to an existing, mature sward (>5 year old ley). These new leys also have a greater response to nutrient application, maximising nitrogen use efficiency.

Through well-established grass breeding programmes in the UK we have seen significant improvements in the performance in both yield and quality of new grass varieties. Improvements in grass DM yield have increased by as much as 2% per annum, so a new variety produced today can have up to 20% higher annual DM yield than one produced 10 years ago. In addition, new techniques for measuring different grass characteristics and developments in grass genomics are now accelerating this improvement.

As part of its R&D programme, DairyCo, in partnership with EBLEX, HCC, BGS and BSPB, fund the production of the annual Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL) for England and Wales. These lists contain independent information of new and existing grass varieties, providing data on the performance (e.g. DM yield and digestibility) and persistence (e.g. disease resistance and ground cover) of individual varieties.

Each variety on the RGCL has been rigorously tested, with only the top 5% of varieties achieving fully recommended status on the list. Each variety is grown on five trial sites  across England and Wales and their performance evaluated under two different cutting regimes, simulating grazing and silage management, thus allowing  us to identify which varieties excel under different conditions.

This year, in addition to the RGCL booklet which contains key information about each variety, the full list of data has also been published. The list contains more details on each of the varieties on the RGCL and offers information on important variables such as early season growth and ground cover. Both lists are available to download at:

For farmers in Scotland a list is available through SRUC via

For more information on renewing swards see chapter 12 of the DairyCo Grass+ folder which can be downloaded from or order the full programme by calling 024 7647 8702.