Blood test could aid cattle health and productivity, finds study
London, Sept 19 (IBNS): A simple blood test could be used in the future to predict the health and productivity of dairy cows, research shows.
Testing female calves for molecules in the blood – called microRNAs – could help predict their likelihood of developing disease, scientists say.
Scientists have found that the blood levels of certain microRNAs change dramatically during the early life of cows.
Some of these blood molecules are associated with diseases such as lameness and mastitis – inflammation of the udders – as well as with milk production.
Researchers at the Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), who carried out the study, say a procedure to identify calves that are likely to have problems later in life would benefit the dairy industry and improve animal welfare.
Levels of microRNA can be easily analysed in lab tests, and used to assess changes in tissue function. This approach is already being applied to disease diagnosis in humans.
In UK dairy herds, up to one-third of cows are affected by disease or reproductive failure. This incurs costs to farmers.