Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Canadian Lorna drumming up expertise on animal health

AgriSearch funding helped attract Canadian research scientist Lorna Baird, right, to Northern Ireland to investigate ways of reducing lameness in dairy cows with AFBI, Hillsborough colleague Dr Niamh O'Connell.CANADIAN Lorna Baird, who is helping put the Northern Ireland dairy sector on a sounder footing by investigating how to reduce the incidence of lameness in local herds, is drumming to a different beat in her spare time with a local Pipe Band.

"On completing an animal science degree at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg I studied for a master's degree in animal health and welfare at the University of British Columbia," Lorna explained.

"There lameness in dairy cattle was recognised as a prime example of a welfare issue that also impacts on farm business viability. Find ways of reducing lameness and you improve both animal welfare and income. Fascinated, I devoted my final thesis to the subject and began to look for an opportunity to continue this research."

So when a post was advertised at Hillsborough with AFBI, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Lorna decided to apply. "Better still, farmers in Northern Ireland, through AgriSearch, are helping fund the research into lameness. The work also offered the opportunity to gain a Doctorate by part time study" Lorna said.

"So I left family and friends in Canada to undertake work of real value at one of the UK's main centres of agricultural research." As well as her work, Lorna is also enjoying living in Northern Ireland.

"This is a great place to live with an amazing array of musical events, every weekend there seems to be another festival. Above all, the province is a great centre of pipe band music, one of my abiding interests. After much thought I have made time to play with local competition band Upper Crossgar as a snare drummer.

"Taking part in competitions is brilliant, especially when I meet up with Canadian bands, which often have members from here. The new world champions, for example, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band out of Vancouver has three Northern Ireland members.

"So I guess just as bovine lameness is a global problem so a passion for pipe band music crosses borders and oceans.

Ulster Star