Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Is cows' milk best? And could a simple device reduce farm deaths?

BT Young Scientist projects shed new light on agri-food topics

Rachel Bentley, Niamh Brannigan and Aoife Lancaster
Rachel Bentley, Niamh Brannigan and Aoife Lancaster
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A project by three Wicklow students on what is the 'best' milk at the BT Young Scientist had some interesting findings

The three pupils from St Mary's College, Arklow, looked at the nutritional benefits of cows' milk and other milks on the market.

Their survey showed that 5pc of people they surveyed drank alternatives to cows' milk and 30pc thought that alternative milks are healthier than cows' milk.

"There is a message out there that alternative milks are better than cows' milk and we wanted to see if it is," said Rachel Bentley.

For their project, they engaged with Teagasc Moorepark and tested 400 samples of milk and milk alternatives for protein, fat and lactose.

The three, Rachel Bentley, Aoife Lancaster and Niamh Brannigan (pictured above), found that whole cows' milk had greater amounts of fat, protein and lactose than lower fat milk or milk alternatives.

"The milk you drink depends on the nutrients you want more or less of. From the results...we found that cows' milk is more nutritious than alternatives such as soya or almond. Alternative milks are much lower in fat and protein so therefore unless for dietary requirements there is no benefit to drinking alternative milks."

"Their report also states that they believe that raw milk is best as nothing is added and there are no nutrients lost. However, there is the debate about unpasturised milk being dangerous. After raw milk, whole milk is best."

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Tractor Safety

Jack Nagle (pictured below), a pupil at Killorglin Community College, showcased a simple invention that automatically engages the handbrake of a tractor when the driver hops out of the tractor and forgets to put on the handbrake.

He said he was inspired to create the device after his grandfather was injured in a farming accident after he forgot to put on the handbrake of a tractor.

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Jack Nagle with his safety tractor sea.
Impact of Farm Accidents

Emma Kearney (pictured below) of Mount Mercy College Cork looked at the psychological effects of a farm accident and her project recommended that in non-fatal accidents a grant is made available towards the costs of adapting the farm and equipment to help the farmer.

Current grants do not cover farm equipment and machinery, she said and recommended that farmers should be entitled to this grant.

She also found that if you have had a body extremity amputated it does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits.

"The only exception to this rule is if you have both hands amputated, both legs amputated, a leg amputated up through the hip joint or a pelvic amputation.

"Farmers should be entitled to a disability pension after suffering life changing injuries at their workplace even if self employed."

Emma also said that greater support for people affected by farm accidents and fatalities is needed.

farm accident impact.jpg

Sheep Gun

Twins Sarah and Mary Murphy (pictured below), from Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Crossmolina, Mayo, invented a new sheep marking gun, which they are hoping to patent.

'Make a Mark' is an alternative way to mark sheep which, they say, is clean to operate, fast, labour saving and leaves a very good mark on sheep.

"We came up with the idea as our father keeps sheep and we found that marking sheep with the current available products was messy," said Mary.

Sarah said their product is unique as it allows farmers two different nozzels, a range of colours, and will mark 400 sheep with every cartridge.

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Sarah and Mary Murphy with their sheep marking gun.

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