• Studiedag Koesensor

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Research outputs

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Main research question/goal
How can we present dairy farmers with objective and scientific supported information on commercially developed sensors to? In this project, ILVO, KUL and Hooibeekhoeve set up a Knowledge Centre about automated individual online observation of dairy cattle.  In the dairy industry, a wide range of sensors are available to support farmers in their daily management. The large number and variety of sensors available makes it difficult for managers to decide which is most appropriate for their farm.  

Research approach
This empirical research project is done using dairy cattle. We use ILVO’s emission measurement rooms, called gas exchange chambers or GEC. We also map bacterial populations. We split a group of 30 Holstein-Friesian heifer calves in a control treatment and two experimental treatments (extruded linseed and essential oil blend). The treatment starts from birth and stops at 4 months of age. After this time, all calves are reared on the same diet. The calves are monitored closely throughout the trial (from birth until one month after their first calving): feed intake, growth, immunity, composition of the rumen microbiome over course of time and methane emission. The mothers of the 30 heifer calves are sampled once for rumen fluid, to map their personal microbial population.

This doctoral study investigates the possibilities of steering the composition of the rumen microbiome and the persistency of this change during the life cycle of the ruminant. If the hypothesis is confirmed, this reveals new and interesting perspectives for livestock farming, from both an ecological and economical point of view. The use of feed additives is one of the most promising strategies to reduce methane production in ruminants today. But these strategies are too expensive to implement them during the full life of the animal.  By using early life programming, the treatment period is shorter and the dosage lower. If the rumen microbiome of the newborn animal can be steered in a beneficial and permanent direction, then the possible negative effects on taste of milk and meat associated with lifelong treatment can be avoided. The results of this study are communicated throughout Europe and beyond and are intensively communicated through workshops, presentations and information sessions for all stakeholders (e.g. other researchers, farmers, livestock feed sector).

External partner(s)
Hooibeekhoeve - proefbedrijf voor veehouderij
KULeuven - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
Effective start/end date1/02/1331/03/17

ID: 4146440