Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Send Me AHI Programme Information & Newsletters

CellCheck Programme - Technical Working Group

Technical Working Group Members     

more info

Prof. Simon More - CVERA, UCD - Chairperson

Simon is a veterinarian with specialist skills in national and international animal disease control. He has contributed to the work of governments and industries in a number of countries in Australasia, southeast Asia, Europe and South America.

In Ireland, he is based at University College Dublin, as Director of the UCD Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis. This Centre provides information to support decision-making on animal disease control in Ireland, by both government and industry.

His involvement with AHI is important as Simon feels that “prior to the formation of Animal Health Ireland, there was no leadership or coordination of non-regulatory animal health issues in Ireland. As a consequence, Ireland has slipped behind a number of competitor countries in dealing with issues such as BVD, mastitis and calf health. AHI is a special organisation, bringing together all the key stakeholders, enabling Irish farmers and the broader rural industry to shape its own future in this area. I am extremely happy to contribute to AHI, given the importance of its work”.

more info

Finola McCoy - Senior Programme Manager CellCheck - Programme Manager


Finola graduated from University College Dublin in 1997 with a degree in veterinary medicine. She spent the following 11 years working in various mixed practices in Ireland, UK and New Zealand, and during this time developed a keen interest in the dairy industry. Working with large dairy herds in New Zealand provided an invaluable insight into some of the challenges associated with herd expansion and disease control. While working in practice she undertook a Masters in Science in Livestock Health and Production through the University of London, which she completed in 2006.

Finola joined the Teagasc research team in Moorepark in 2008, as the mastitis research officer. She co-ordinated and managed a pilot study evaluating a team-based approach to mastitis control, as well as collaborating on other research projects. She has a keen interest and experience in international models of mastitis control. While working for Teagasc she commenced working as Programme Manager for CellCheck, and joined the AHI staff in May 2013 to continue working in that role.

Finola has been awarded a 2014 Nuffield scholarship, to explore the topic of building strong professional teams and networks among rural service providers.

Contact Finola by email here.

more info

Alan Johnson - Limerick RVL

Alan is originally from a dairy farm in Rathkeale Co. Limerick.

He is now based in the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Limerick working with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

He graduated from UCD in 1991 with a degree in Veterinary Medicine. In 2004 he completed a Masters degree in the field of bovine herd health.

His qualifications include MVB MVM. Initially after qualification he worked for five years in general practice in Derry and Tyrone.

Alan is “happy to be involved with Animal Health Ireland, trying to improve animal health and welfare standards in the island of Ireland”.

more info

Brendan Dillon - Mastitis/Cell Count Manager, Glanbia

Brendan is currently based in Clonroche with Glanbia as a Mastitis/Cell Count Manager.

He completed a BSc from NUI Maynooth, and is a member of IMQCS (as a milking machine technician), and a member of FMA (Farm Managers Association). He is a Mastitis Manager with Glanbia and has previously worked with Premier Dairies as a milking machine technician for 12 years. Prior to this he worked as a farm manager in Wicklow for 3 years. He is pleased to be involved with the AHI CellCheck program. His main driver to becoming involved was his experience of the EuroMilk programme. He feels that for too long farmers were receiving differing advice from different sources and believes that this can only lead to confusion.

Brendan feels that “there needs to be a holistic approach to cell count problems and it needs the involvement of all stakeholders (vets, milking machine technicians, Teagasc advisers, co-op advisors). If we can get the farmers to participate in this program we will greatly reduce cell count problems and both farmers and processors will benefit from this”.

more info

Damien Barrett - Research Officer, Sligo RVL

Damien is originally from a cattle farm (originally mixed, now beef) near Killala in North Mayo. He is based in Sligo working with the Sligo Regional Veterinary Laboratory as a Research Officer.

He graduated from UCD Veterinary College in 1996 with an MVB. He has also completed a Master’s thesis by research on mastitis in Irish dairy herds. He was awarded the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) certificate in Cattle Health and Production in 2003. He was conferred with a Master in Science (in veterinary epidemiology and public health) from the University of London in 2007. He also became a Diplomate of the European College of Bovine Herd Health Management in 2007, based on his experience of and contribution to herd health management.

He spent four years in farm animal practice in Kilkenny and Bandon. From 2000 until 2003 he was clinical lecturer in large animal clinical studies in UCD’s Veterinary College, where he was involved mainly in on farm teaching.

He joined the veterinary staff of the Dept. of Agriculture in 2003, working initially as Veterinary Training Officer, in CVERA (Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis) and as a Research Officer in Sligo Regional Veterinary Laboratory since 2006.

more info

Don Crowley - Teagasc, Clonakilty

Don is originally from Cork. He is based in Clonakilty, Co. Cork with Teagasc.

He graduated from UCD in 1994 with a BAgrSc (Hons) degree from UCD. Previously he has worked with Riverview Veterinary Clinic in Bandon, Co. Cork as an Agricultural Consultant covering, nutrition and mastitis issues. He joined Teagasc in 2006 and worked on a joint program with Dairygold and Carbery specialising in milk quality issues such as SCC/mastitis, thermoduric control, TBC’s and sediment issues.

Don sees AHI as “an important vehicle to co-ordinate a multi-disciplined panel to deliver a consistent message for farmers and industry to manage milk quality issues”.

more info

Edmond Harty - Technical Director, Dairymaster

Edmond is from Kerry. He is the Technical Director of Dairymaster and is based in Causeway in Co. Kerry. He graduated from UL with a B Eng (Mechanical Engineering) in 1997.

He completed a PhD from UCD in 2002 where he developed a new method for the evaluation of milking units by measuring performance under flow conditions. He is also a member of the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) expert groups on milking. He is a Chartered Engineer of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland. His qualifications include B. Eng. Ph.D Eur. Eng C. Eng MIEI MIET.

He is responsible for all technical matters within Dairymaster from new product development and production to technical training and after care service. He has pioneered a number of new products and has over 40 patents filed to date as a result of work on product development with devices ranging from vacuum regulators & electronic milk metering to state of the art animal feeding systems.

“I am happy to be involved with the CellCheck program with AHI because it helps ensure that the Irish dairy industry will be at the forefront internationally and is strategically important for the future of dairy farming”.

more info

Frank O'Sullivan - Veterinary Ireland

Frank is originally from Meath and is a vet based in Trim in a general practice.  He graduated from UCD in 1983 with an MVB, MRCVS. He completed a Masters in Applied Science (Food Science), in UCD 1999 - part of which included a thesis entitled “Application of HACCP Systems: interface with GMP”. He completed a diploma entitled “Essential Trainer Skills” from NUI Galway in 2000 designed to provide key skills to deliver training and education in the food and agricultural industry. The practice in Meath provides veterinary clinical services and also promotes herd health and disease prevention strategies to farmer clients. Frank is also a part time lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology delivering courses in meat technology, risk analysis and food safety.

He is the farm and food animal continuing editor of the Irish Veterinary Journal. He is a past president and currently the chair of the “One Health” committee of Veterinary Ireland.

“I really look forward to the Cellcheck TWG meetings where I can interact with others from varying backgrounds.I usually learn a lot, not only about technical issues but also about project management and taking the macro view. I get to understand the variety of alternate opinions and I contribute in a small way where I can. I get satisfaction from this.”

“CellCheck is a microcosm of how the future vet will interact with the farm.  The vet will be part of management team monitoring and measuring various components influencing SCC performance and taking actions where needed to reduce SCC. The vet will be a trainer, act as facilitator in multidisciplinary teams in addition to using core skills around cow health and welfare and food safety advice and management.”

“It is likely that processor and the consumer will have transparent access to activities pre-farm gate. Cow hygiene, milking routines, welfare aspects and antimicrobial usage will all be under scrutiny by the entire food chain. Indeed efficiency around mastitis will contribute to sustainability on farm. “ Frank hopes “that CellCheck will provide farmers, vets and advisors with a roadmap to help reduce or manage cell count and mastitis issues on farm. Success will be rewarding not only through maximising farm profits by producing low cell count milk but also by providing milk processors with a premium raw material for high quality dairy products”.

more info

George Ramsbottom - Dairy Specialist, Teagasc, Oak Park

George is originally from Co. Laois. He is currently working with Teagasc as a Dairy Specialist based at Oak Park in Carlow.

He graduated from UCD with a BAgrSc (Hons) in 1990, and completed a MAgrSc (Hons) in UCD in 1992. He then went on to complete a MAnSc UCD in 1998. In George’s current role he works with Dairy Advisers and farmers and liaises between research and the extension services. He has been in Teagasc since 1993.

“My involvement in the CellCheck program with AHI is to work as part of the group tailoring the mastitis tech notes and farmer guidelines for an Irish audience.”

more info

Kevin Downing - ICBF

Kevin is originally from a dairy farm in Whitechurch, Co. Cork.

He graduated from UCC in 1998 with a BA Economics and an HDip in Software Engineering in 1999.

He has also completed two years of the Farm Apprenticeship programme.

He has worked with ICBF since 2002 and is currently involved in the HerdPlus breeding program which is designed to provide a range of farm management aids including EBI reports, Eurostar reports etc to farmers. He is involved in the design/development and support of all the HerdPlus reports and web applications.

“My involvement in the CellCheck program with AHI revolves around the design and roll out of SCC/Mastitis reports which will help identify problem areas and point them to areas where corrective action needs to be taken”

more info

Luke O'Grady - Lecturer Herd and Veterinary Public Health, UCD

Luke is originally from Glasgow in Scotland. He is currently a Lecturer in Population Medicine within the unit of Herd and Veterinary Public Health at UCD.

He graduated from Glasgow Veterinary School in 2003 (BVMS). In 2008, he attained further specialist qualifications by receiving a diploma from the European College in Bovine Health Management. After a short period in general practice he undertook an internship within the large animal clinical studies department at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in University College Dublin (UCD).

In 2005 he then embarked on a European College of Bovine Health Management residency-training program at UCD. In 2007 he took up his current role as a Lecturer in Population Medicine within the unit of Herd and Veterinary Public Health at UCD. Luke’s current areas of interests include the creation and delivery of dairy herd health management systems, disease investigation strategies, animal health economics and veterinary education.

He is currently working with Animal Health Ireland to develop control programs for infectious diseases and mastitis.

more info

Niamh Ryan - Mastitis and Lameness Research Officer

Niamh is originally from a small beef farm in North Tipperary and now lives in Cork.

She graduated as a vet from UCD in 2006 and spent a number of years working in mixed practise in Ireland before moving to New Zealand and working in a dairy practice there. There, she saw first-hand how on large dairy farms a very high standard of animal care and mastitis control can be achieved and maintained. Insight into how this was achieved on these farms will be of great value in working with Irish dairy farmers post quota abolition in 2015.

In September 2013, Niamh joined the team at Teagasc, Moorepark as the mastitis and lameness research officer. Her research interests include strategies to reduce antibiotic use on farm.

Niamh is delighted to be involved with Cellcheck and feels that 'implementing the programmes recommendations is essential to the Irish dairy industry’s goals of expanding our global market and increasing exports. To do this we need to have a top quality raw product – low SCC count milk. Following the Cellcheck guidelines provides farmers with a means of achieving this'.

more info

Patrick Kelly - Munster AI

Patrick is originally from a dairy farm in South Tipperary and is now based in Munster with Munster Herd Health.

He graduated from UCD with a BAgrSc (Hons) in 2005. He completed a PhD with UCD and Teagasc, Moorepark in 2010. The PhD was titled the ‘A study of the somatic cell count (SCC) of Irish milk from herd management and environmental perspectives’, and included work on 400 dairy farms identifying management practices that were related to reduced SCC as well as work on the milk loss due to SCC. He currently works for Munster Herd Health, and is involved in the SCC reduction programme liaising with farmers in order to reduce SCC on farm.

Patrick believes that “AHI will be good for farmers as it has brought all aspects of mastitis control to the table for discussion allowing the putting together of best practices. The plan to move all personnel involved in mastitis control in one direction will be of great benefit to farmers and remove the confusion with regard to mastitis and SCC”.

more info

Tom Ryan - Farm Buildings and Machinery Specialist, Teagasc, Kildalton

Tom is originally from Emly, Co Tipperary, and is currently based in Kildalton College, Piltown as Farm Buildings and Machinery specialist with Teagasc.

Tom graduated from UCD in 1976 with a BAgrSc. Tom’s role is in providing backup support for colleagues on all aspects of farm buildings, especially good design, standard drawings, specifications and construction quality. He also conducts Irish Milk Quality Co-operative Society (IMQCS) certified milking machine technician training courses for the dairy industry.

Previously he worked as an adviser in South Tipperary, before taking up this role. He is pleased to be involved with AHI as it deals with all aspects of milk quality and related animal health issues.

more info

Willie Buckley - Veterinary Practitioner

Willie is originally from a dairy farm in West Cork.

He is based in Bandon, Co. Cork where he is a vet in a large animal practise.

He graduated from UCD Veterinary College in 1994. He has worked in general practice throughout Northern Ireland, Wales, England, New Zealand and Ireland. His primary focus over the last ten years has been on milk quality. “Our practice has been testing milking machines for 30 years and we have a laboratory which does cultures and sensitivities for our farmers, external veterinary clinics and co-ops.”

He is happy to be involved with AHI and the CellCheck program because “I believe this is a novel approach where all the stakeholders are working together to a common goal of creating ‘Food Ireland’".

AHI Farmer Social Networking Link

ISO Logo

Contributing to a profitable and sustainable farming and agri-food sector through improved animal health