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My Honours Project by Claire Hayman

SRUC Edinburgh student Claire Hayman has just completed her Honours Project as part of the Applied Animal Science BSc. Claire shares the topic she chose and explains how SRUC gave her the chance to be part of a bigger project.

My Honours project was titled “Early prediction of bovine tuberculosis status of dairy cows from milk mid-infrared spectral data using deep learning”.

Bovine TB is a major challenge in the UK. The skin test used for screening is well known to be a problem – infected cows may be returning to the herd, having passed the test. SRUC have recently developed a tool to predict TB status from milk, using mid-infrared spectroscopy and a deep learning network.

My project aimed to assess how early the model could predict TB status. The results showed there is potential for infected cows to be identified up to six months before they fail a skin test. This could mean cows can be removed from the herd earlier, allowing more efficient management and reducing the spread of infection.

SRUC made this possible by giving me the chance to be part of a bigger, ongoing project. This work has real worldclaire hayman application and was a great opportunity. The tool has now progressed to field trials with DEFRA and it is exciting to know I have made some contribution to it! Thanks go to my supervisors, Scott Denholm and Mike Coffey, for all their help and encouragement.

I chose this project as it combined my interests in livestock health, technology and data. It brought together aspects we had studied throughout the course, as well as giving me the chance to learn data science skills not covered elsewhere – areas that are growing all the time and will be really useful.

My project was also possible due to data SRUC receive from National Milk Records, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and British Cattle Movement Service. It was supported by funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The field trials are being funded by DEFRA.

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