Researchers at UCD


Finbar Mulligan


School Of Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Science Centre
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 1 7166251


Dr. Finbar Mulligan is a member of the School of Veterinary Medicine, UCD.  He is a college lecturer in animal nutrition and is based in the academic section of Animal Husbandry and Herd Health.  Dr. Mulligan is currently a supervisor of 4 post-graduate students. His current research interests include dairy herd health and the prevention of production diseases, nutrition of the early lactation cow, nutrition of the dry cow, nutrition of the performance horse, and the protein metabolism of dairy cattle.  He has supervised 4PhD, 3 MAnSc students and 1 Diplomat in the European College of Bovine Health Management to completion.  He is an active member of the UCD herd health group and regularly participates in herd health investigations that are related to dairy cow nutrition or production disease.  He has published more than thirty peer-reviewed scientific papers in the area of ruminant nutrition on a range of topics including digestion kinetics of ruminant animals, the protein nutrition of dairy cattle and nutrition and production diseases in dairy cows. He was Guest Editor for the peer-reviewed special issues Nutrition and Fertility in Dairy Cattle (Animal Reproduction Science) and Production Diseases of the Transition Cow (The Veterinary Journal).  Dr Mulligan is an Associate Diplomat of European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition.  He is an appointee of the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine on The Veterinary Council of Ireland since January 2006.  He is a member of Animal Health Ireland's Technical Working Group on Fertility.



Peer Reviewed Journals

Mulligan, F., O'Grady, L. and Doherty, M.L.; (2006) 'A herd health approach to dairy cow nutrition and Production Disease of the transition cow'. ANIMAL REPRODUCTION SCIENCE, 96 :331-353. [Details]
Mulligan, F.J., Caffrey, P.J., Rath, M., Callan, J.J., Brophy, P.O., OMara, F.P. ; (2002) 'An investigation of feeding level effects on digestibility in cattle for diets based on grass silage and high fibre concentrates at two forage:concentrate ratios'. Livestock Science, 77 :311-323. [Details]
Mulligan, F.J., Caffrey, P.J., Rath, M., Kenny, M.J., OMara, F.P.; (2001) 'The effect of dietary protein content and hay intake level on the true and apparent digestibility of hay'. Livestock Science, 68 :41-52. [Details]
Mulligan, F.J., Caffrey, P.J., Rath, M., Callan, J.J., OMara, F.P.; (2001) 'The relationship between feeding level, rumen particulate and fluid turnover rate and the digestibility of soya hulls in cattle and sheep (including a comparison of Cr-mordanted soya hulls and Cr203 as particulatemarkers in cattle)'. Livestock Science, 70 :191-202. [Details]
Woods, V.B., Moloney, A.P., Mulligan, F.J., Kenny, M.J. and OMara, F.P. ; (1999) 'The effect of animal species (cattle or sheep) and level of intake by cattle on in vivo digestibility of concentrate ingredients'. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 80 :135-150. [Details]


Research Interests

My research area is ruminant nutrition and specifically within that discipline the nutrition of dairy cows for optimal production, health and environmental efficiency.  It is now widely recognised that the food production systems we use must be sustainable.  The sustainability of livestock production systems involves the economics of production, the production of safe and wholesome food and reducing the environmental foot-print.  Much of my recent research has focused on nutritional strategies which alter metabolic status in the period immediately before and after calving and in the early part of the lactation.  This period has been identified as a critical time for ill-health in the dairy cow.  In  particular, the consequences of negative nutritional states on metabolic and health parameters have been investigated.  Furthermore a novel preventative approach to dairy cow nutritionally related production diseases has been published which concentrates on monitoring tools to assess nutritional status and the most appropriate control strategies.  The continuing development of appropriate control strategies for suboptimal metabolic status in dairy cows before and after calving is a constant theme in much of my research.  The impact of this research is that the production of safe food from healthy dairy cows of good welfare status is guaranteed through disease prevention.  The importance of this research to other researchers, dairy professionals and veterinary practitioners in the field is evidenced by the fact that three of my publications have been placed in the top 25 most-downloaded articles in their respective journals, in some cases for several years after the initial publication.  The significance of this research has also been evident in the number of international keynote-speaker engagements that I have fulfilled around the world.  This includes invitations to speak on this topic as keynote speaker at the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition, Conference, Sardinia, 2009, The European College of Bovine Health Management, Workshop for Residents, Munich, 2009; The World Buiatrics Congress, Lisbon, 2012.  Furthermore at least one commercial group (Munster Cattle Breeding Group) has implemented the monitoring tools advocated in this research as part of their Dairy Herd Health and Preventative Medicine Programme.  There is substantial evidence that my research in this area will grow into the future.  This is seen in the collaborations we are forging Internationally eg., with Professor Ian Lean University of Sydney (Collaborative publication in preparation) and the research funding attracted recently from private industry.  In the area of environmental efficiency a good proportion of my research work has investigated strategies to reduce the excretion of nitrogen by grazing dairy cows.  There is now a growing acceptance that dairy cow diets can be reformulated which reduce nitrogen excretion to the environment, improve metabolic status ay key points of the lactation cycle without impacting negatively on milk production.  This work is critical for the future development of dairy production systems based on grazed pasture where traditionally huge inefficiencies of nitrogen utilisation were a part of the system.  This work ultimately lead to the development of a model for predicting nitrogen excretion which was presented at the European Association of Animal Production, Annual Meeting in 2005.  This model may form part of whole farm systems modelling exercise to ensure the production systems developed and researched are sustainable.