Cattle vet Mark Little hopes Agrisearch funded study will help to identify relationships between nutrition and immune function in dairy cattle, and their impact on cow health and fertility.

Veterinary surgeon Mark Little has embarked upon three years research towards a PhD with the support of AgriSearch, the Northern Ireland Agricultural Research and Development Council.
Mark LittleThe objective of this study is to identify relationships between nutrition and immune function in dairy cattle, especially during early lactation, and their impact on cow health and fertility (especially uterine health).

Mark’s first experiment is already underway and has been designed to identify if “pushing” individual cows within a “feed to yield” system results in suppressed immune function. The experiment will involve 100 cows on two different feeding strategies: a flat rate total mixed ration and “feed to yield” system.

Mark graduated from University College Dublin in 2002. Since 2006 he has worked solely as a dairy vet and, during 2012, he completed a post graduate certificate in dairy herd health (with first class honours) from UCD.
As well as Mark, the research team comprises AFBI Hillsborough dairy researchers Dr Conrad Ferris and Alastair Wylie, as well as AFBI-VSD veterinary researchers Michael Welsh and Simon Doherty, plus Dr Niamh O’Connell at Queens University Belfast.

AgriSearch dairy advisory committee chairman Gary McHenry said: “AgriSearch is delighted to have Mark Little on board as a PhD student as he brings a huge amount of knowledge and experience with him. This study will tackle an area of great importance to Northern Ireland dairy farmers and we look forward to seeing the results.”

  • For further information, visit or call (028) 8778 9770 to request a free AgriSearch monthly ezine.
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