Prize-winning schoolgirls take quantum leap from babies’ bottoms to dairy cows’ udders

Two Co Limerick schoolgirls have found a widely-used cream for soothing babies’ bottoms is a great remedy for dairy cows with sore udders caused by mastitis.

Meabh Mulcahy, aged 16, from Coolcappa, Rathkeale, and Mairead O’Donnell, also 16, from Ballingaddy, Kimallock, yesterday won a schools science award for their discovery, which could save farmers huge sums of money.

Both girls, transition year students St Mary’s Secondary school in Charleville, did their research on the family farms run by their dads, Liam Mulcahy and David O’Donnell. They found that a tub of Sudocrem costing €4 can clear mastitis in a dairy cow just as quickly as widely-used veterinary injections which cost €60 per treatment.

Meabh said: “Not alone is the Sudocrem treatment cheaper, but the cows milk does not have to be discarded as it is not an antibiotic.

“At home on the farm we always liked to come up with home remedies to treat our dairy herd, and we came across this almost by accident when we applied the Sudocrem to cows when they began to show the first signs of mastitis in their udders.

“After every milking, two times a day, I applied the cream, and over five days the cows got better. Mairead and I found from research that zinc oxide in the Sudocrem had very strong healing powers.”

Yesterday their discovery won first prize at the Scifest exhibition run at Limerick Institute of Technology, which attracted over 100 projects from 16 schools in Limerick city and Counties Cork, Clare and Tipperary.

As part of their research, the girls consulted scientists at UCC’s food and science laboratory, as well as Limerick veterinary pharmacist Sadie Ryan.

The girls are embarking on further research to come up with their own cream to treat mastitis.

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