Contract rearers wanted for Teagasc study

In conjunction with national and international organisations, Teagasc and UCD are leading a research project on biosecurity and the contract rearing of dairy heifers.

As it stands, a database of farmers who are engaged in contract rearing – either contract rearing heifers for clients or utilising the services of a contractor – is being established.

From there, Teagasc and UCD will be recruiting farmers to participate in a study that will compare health, fertility and production outcomes between heifers that are contract reared and those that are not.

The study will commence this spring and will involve a research team conducting farm visits twice yearly for two years.

What will be measured?

A variety of performance parameters including weight, body condition score, fertility and health score will be measured.

Timeline of farm visits. Image source: Teagasc

To establish infectious disease exposure risk, blood samples will be taken from the heifers and bulk milk samples will be collected from the home herd. In addition, biosecurity risk assessments will also be conducted.

Alongside the contract reared heifers, Teagasc and UCD will be profiling the heifers reared on their farm of origin. These heifers will serve as the control group for comparison of health, production and fertility performance.

All work will be carried out by the project team from Moorepark with minimal farmer time commitment. There will be no charge and suitable participants will be selected on a first come, first served basis.


If you are interested in participating in this study, or want information, send your contact details to Teagasc at: [email protected]. The deadline is Monday, January 29.