Short description of the Project

Dairy cattle occupy a vital role in an Austrian agricultural landscape characterized by alpine meadows. A healthy, balanced diet is the basis for maintaining health and well-being in dairy cows and thus for sustainable milk production. To supply the cow with enough energy and all the necessary nutrients for the production of high-quality milk, feed must include additional calories and nutrients. However, since cows have adapted to fibre-rich, low-calorie fodder, it is a great challenge to develop feeding strategies using calorie- and nutrient-dense feedstuffs to promote high milk yields without in turn causing health problems for ruminants. If this balance is not struck, cows exhibit an accumulation of metabolic diseases

Under our leadership and with the cooperation of three schools, participants in our Sparkling Science project entitled "Functional feed for cattle – nutrient value as value added" will try to further develop and optimize a method of processing fodder for dairy cattle. The main objective of this undertaking will be to design a series of incremental experiments to produce cattle feed that has a higher nutritional value and more functional properties than conventional feed, thus having a positive impact on the animals' health.

To that end, teachers and students of the HBLVA (school for industrial chemistry) located at Rosensteingasse, Vienna, will perform in vitro testing and optimization of the entire procedure using various chemical analytical methods. The resulting structural changes induced in the grain kernels will be examined ultramicroscopically.

The objective for the second year is for the optimized grain treatment procedure to be tested in vivo at the LFZ school and research centre in Raumberg-Gumpenstein. Students of the LFZ Raumberg-Gumpenstein and of the Stiftsgymnasium in Admont will work in small groups under scientific supervision to perform physiological testing on the animals, with particular attention being paid to the animal’s health as based on nutritional and metabolic factors.

In this way students of the participating schools are given the chance to work autonomously towards achieving scientific results in all aspects of the project within the framework of a professionally supervised, diverse, multi-disciplinary environment. This project thus serves to improve collaboration between various educational facilities and also between individual fields of specialization, as well as to promote interdisciplinary linkages between research efforts and interdisciplinary education.