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Bovine Bum Bags

16-Oct-2017 11:37 AM | Kimberley White

Can you explain a little about yourself and your background?

I am Lisa Macintyre, from Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design. I have a PhD in medical compression textiles for the treatment of hypertrophic burn scars and a BSc in Textile Technology. I have been a lecturer and researcher in textile technology with a particular focus on knitted textiles, and physical testing of textiles and product development for function for the last 20 years. Before that I had experience in testing functional textiles for the Ministry of Defence and completed the John Lewis graduate training programme and spent some time as a staff trainer for the John Lewis partnership.

Can you explain the project you have received Challenge Funding for? 

I led a project that was funded by the Textile Future Forum to undertake a collaborative project with the Moredun Institute, JD Wilkie and Lella Cherrie (fashion technologist and product developer on this project). The Moredun Institute presented a problem in that during the course of their normal research activities (to develop medicines and vaccines for cattle) they need to collect fresh and untainted samples of poo from calves. They traditionally do this by attaching a harness made of straps to the calf, and suspending a bag from the harness to collect the poo as the animal defecates. The harness they had was complicated and difficult to fit and the collection bag was not fitted close to the animal. This led to sample loss and considerable mess as well as occasional discomfort for the animal. We developed a new product that was considerably easier to fit to the calf, with much improved comfort and better fit that will minimise sample loss, reduce health and safety issues and maximise animal welfare. We developed the new product in conjunction with JD Wilkie, who will be the manufacturer of the product under licence.


Why do you believe the textiles industry needs the project you are working on?

The textiles industry can benefit from projects like this one as niche technical projects increase the product portfolio of the company thus increasing business opportunity and safeguarding jobs. We (in Heriot Watt University) are able to develop the project with the company; helping to do evaluations that they have neither time nor equipment to undertake within the business. We are also able to develop robust experimental designs to ensure that objective product evaluations are undertaken, providing useful information for publication and marketing material.

What have you managed to achieve progress on since you were awarded the Challenge Fund?

We successfully evaluated a range of materials and existing products in order to ensure that the materials used in our newly designed calf jacket and ‘bovine bumbag’ system for collecting faecal samples (poo) are as durable and suitable to the end-use as possible.

We replaced the complex harness system with a comfortable, breathable, adjustable calf jacket (available in 2 sizes designed for different ages of calf). This calf jacket is significantly easier to fit on the calves reducing any stress put on the animal and making fitting time more efficient and pleasant. The calf jacket is fully washable at high temperatures ensuring that harmful organisms are killed in the washing process.

We re-designed the bag for sample (poo) collection and the new bag fits very closely to the calf’s rear in such a way that chafing under the tail should be minimised or eliminated, and the percentage of the sample that is collected should be significantly increased. This means that the calves will not have to wear the jacket and ‘bumbag’ for as long as they previously had to wear the harness and the person collecting the samples should be able to do so without contamination or mess.


new Bovine Bum Bag design

What impact has your project had, to date?

The project has led to significantly improved products for the collection of faecal sampling and these are already being used on projects at the Moredun Institute. Once design protection is in place this will be licensed to JD Wilkie for manufacture and made available to other research institutes. There is considerable interest for this product around the world. The product will never be manufactured in very high volumes but there is a significant niche market for this product and due to the enhanced testing of the materials in the development of the calf jacket it may find application in other animal husbandry products.

What does the future look like for your project? What are the next steps?

The next steps for this project are to finalise the design protection and licencing agreement.



Lisa Macintyre interviewed by Kimberley White

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