Udder satisfaction tracked to sound of music

DAIRY scientists and agri advisers are forever producing systems to help farmers get more milk from their dairy herds.

All of those programmes have a well-proven scientific base, but now two students from Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh in Bishopstown, Cork, have taken a different approach to improving milk production.

Encouraged by teacher Martina Downes, James Delaney and Michael McCarthy have been working on a project to try and establish if cows exposed to different types of music on a regular basis produce more milk than those who are not.

A number of farmers are co-operating with the students and allowing them to play one type of music to their cows for four consecutive days.

Music played will vary from classical and pop to metal and Irish traditional. There will also be four control days when no music will be played, and milk yields will be recorded.

James and Michael said they “hope to discover whether or not music affects milk production positively and evaluate which type of music if any has the most affect”.

The findings of their research will be revealed at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in the RDS (January 8-12).

Another of the agri-related projects in the exhibition is by Conor Cronin, Bandon Grammar School, who has been examining ways of eradicating ragwort, a noxious weed lethal to many animals.

“In my project, I have surveyed 20 farms in the Bandon area. I have also examined a ragwort plant. One thing that I have noticed is that the ragwort plant has very long roots.

“This means that topping is not a long-term method of eradication” Conor said, also advising farmers to completely remove roots when pulling it from the ground.

Conor, whose class teacher is Edward Gash, said his aim is to find out which method of eradication is most effective.

“By carrying out surveys, interviews and examinations of the ragwort plant I hope to find a long-term solution to the eradication of ragwort,” he said.

The dangers of the Power Take Off (PTO) shaft on tractors are being examined by Mary Prendergast and Celine Flynn, students of Blackwater Community School in Lismore, Co Waterford.

“Our aim is to construct an automated shut off system for the PTO shaft on the rear end of tractors, and to test this device on a toy tractor.

“In Ireland alone, 33% of farm deaths were caused by the PTO shaft last year.

“We constructed our project by building an ultrasonic proximity sensor. The sensor works in the same way as bats detect sound, by sending a high frequency wave out towards an object and detecting when the wave bounces back to the sensor (an echo),” they said.

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