In the dairy industry, light therapy is very important for lactation in cows. In intensive zero-grazing indoor systems, lights are typically left on for 16 to 18 hours a day to regulate a hormone called melatonin. This, in turn, activates growth hormones that naturally stimulate increased lactational capacity.
Equilume used this information to develop a Bovine Light Mask which incorporates a customised blue light for cows.
By identifying the precise amount of light delivered to a single eye and required to regulate bovine melatonin, the Mask enables cows to remain outdoors at grass and still benefit from light’s ability to stimulate higher milk yields. This innovation will allow dairy farmers to improve productivity sustainably, without increasing greenhouse gas emissions that are normally associated with herd expansion.
Headquartered in Co. Kildare, Equilume, a UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science spin-out company, was established in 2012 as a result of pioneering research by company founder, Dr Barbara Murphy. Her research interests are related to chronobiology, the science of biological timekeeping, and specifically how the annual and daily light-dark cycles influence animal physiology.
Dr Barbara Murphy, founder and CSO, Equilume, said, “We have nearly finished our initial lactation study, conducted in collaboration with Teagasc. The data from the first 12 weeks reveals that multiparous cows show a nine percent increase in milk production when wearing the Bovine Light Mask.”
Last week the company won the Agri-Technology Established Company Innovation Award and the Design Partners Award as part of the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards presented during the 2017 National Ploughing Championships.
Dr Murphy added, “The results of our trial are very promising in terms of increasing dairy milk yields. Our next step is to utilise the prize won at the Innovation Awards and to work with Design Partners to expedite a final design of our new Bovine Light Mask offering to bring to the market.”
Dr Murphy concluded, “I am honoured to have won both of these Awards and to be amongst a group of influential award winners who are leading the way in developing innovative agri-tech products and solutions which have the potential to impact not only the agri-tech sector in Ireland but around the world.”
“Equilume is going from strength to strength and I would like to take this opportunity to commend the committed efforts of our enthusiastic team which is driving our scientific research and innovative product development.”
Source: Irish tech News