Animal Science and Welfare

Agri-EPI Centre seeks to improve animal science, welfare and the wellbeing of farmed animals. This includes physiology, biochemistry, nutrition, growth, breeding, lactation, behaviour and welfare. Agri-EPI explores and delivers precision farming engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture across soil, crops and livestock.

Agri-EPI and partners lead BSAS conference session

Agri-EPI Centre and partners will be leading a session at the BSAS conference on 13 April, exploring the intersection of technology, animal health and sustainable food production.  

The BSAS Conference, titled ‘The Challenge of Change – the New Normal?’ (12-15 April), will bring together numerous sectors connected to animal science to discuss the challenges involved in sustainable production in the post-Covid and Brexit era.  

Agri-EPI will present perspectives on the role of new technologies in sustainable agri-food systems. There will be a chance to hear from Agri-EPI’s Head of Dairy, Duncan Forbes, about the latest innovations being trialled at the South West Dairy Development Centre and from Innovent’s David Barclay, SRUC’s Rick D’Eath, and Agri-EPI’s Naomi Smitten, about ‘TailTech’ – a project utilising 3D imaging to predict tail biting in pigs.  

 Dr Tim Potter of VetPartners and George Brownlee of Farmvet Systems will enter into a ‘talking heads’ style discussion, shining a light on what it’s like being a farm-vet on the ground during Covid, and how technology can help vets continue to deliver the best possible service to clients and livestock.   

Kasi McReddie, Agri-EPI’s Business Development Manager for Livestock and Dairy and session lead said: 

“Agri-EPI are thrilled to be included in the first BSAS Virtual Conference. There are so many promising technologies being trialled across the Agri-EPI Centre Farm Network, that have the potential to improve animal health and contribute to the sustainability of British farming. We’re delighted that so many of our respected colleagues have contributed to this session.”  

Agri-EPI members can access a discounted conference delegate rate – details can be found at the BSAS website. You can also find out more about the BSAS Conference 2021 on our dedicated events page.

Lead sponsor for Scottish animal health, agritech & agriculture event announced

The A3 Scotland conference, the country’s first dedicated global event dedicated to the animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture (AAA) sectors, is delighted to welcome the world’s largest animal health company Zoetis on board as its Platinum Sponsor.

“The organising committee for A3 Scotland 2022 is thrilled to have Zoetis as our Platinum Sponsor. As a global leader in animal health, aquaculture and agri-tech, Zoetis is the perfect partner and we look forward to working closely to ensure A3 Scotland 2022 is a success,” said  Lawrence Brown, Veterinary Surgeon and Consultant and Innovation Manager for Health at Edinburgh Innovations, co-founder of the event alongside John Mackenzie, CEO of the Roslin Innovation Centre.

“”Zoetis’ shared enthusiasm for driving innovation, investment and collaboration across AAA has been hugely encouraging and their commitment to A3 Scotland 2022 demonstrates the important role that Scotland will play in the future of sustainable food security and animal health.”

A unique AAA-sector event

The inaugural non-profit event is being organised by the Roslin Innovation Centre, part of the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the Life Sciences Scotland AAA Industry Leadership Group. The Group represents numerous organisations across Scotland, including: Scotland’s Rural College, James Hutton Institute, Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Scottish Association for Marine Science and UK Agri-Tech Centres CIEL and Agri-EPI Centre.

While the event was initially planned for September 2020, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic until April 2022. The conference’s theme is ‘transition to net zero’, bringing the latest research and development from across the AAA industries to investors and policymakers from around the world to discuss strategic partnerships and sustainability.

About Zoetis

Zoetis is a global animal health company with over 65 years’ experience delivering quality medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products to businesses from veterinarians to livestock farmers. With biodevices, genetics tests and precision livestock farming complementing their offering, Zoetis’ dedication to supporting the care of animals made them an ideal partner for the animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture conference.

As a world leader in cutting-edge animal health technology, drawing on both on-the-ground experience of their technical and veterinary specialists, Zoetis is committed to the development of agri-business and the sustainability and longevity of agriculture

Sarah Heming Zoetis Public Affairs Director for Northern Europe said: “We are delighted to be supporting such an important event in Scotland and we are most definitely looking forward to having the chance to be there in person with many other great minds tackling the challenge of transitioning to net zero. Join us in Edinburgh for some productive discussions.”

To join the conference and find out more about the event, visit our events page.

A3 Scotland 2022: Save the date

As sponsor and event partner, Agri-EPI announces the inaugural A3 Scotland for this year to be postponed to 26-27 April in 2022.

Transition to Net Zero

The conference, themed ‘Transition to Net Zero, focuses on encouraging innovation, investment and collaboration in animal health and sustainable food production and brings together industry, investors and policymakers from around the world to discuss strategic partnerships and discover the latest R&D. 

Initially the event was scheduled to take place on 21 and 22 April this year. However, with the ongoing uncertainty around international travelling, face-to-face networking and site tours, the organising committee has made the decision to postpone the event to a safer and more opportune time. The conference will be held next year on 26-27 April 2022. 

The rescheduled event will offer the same exciting programme based around the theme of ‘Transition to Net Zero’, with an exciting and engaging line-up of committed thought leaders from across industry, science and policy. If you are interested in being involved as a speaker, sponsor or delegate, do not hesitate to get in touch and be sure to follow on social media for the latest updates.

A3 | Animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture

‘A3’ refers to animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture and no coincidence for this event to be held in Scotland. With the largest cluster of animal bioscience/aquaculture researchers in Europe, Scotland is already a global player in the ‘A3’ sector. The Roslin area in particular, are internationally recognised as having strengths in A3, both in the research and commercial environments. 

The conference programme offers two core days 26-27 April of expert speakers from across the sectors, panel discussions and networking opportunities. Wrapped around this are optional pre-and post-conference tours showcasing some of Scotland’s world class A3 facilities and expertise. The A3 conference is taking place on the doorstep of our Northern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub in Edinburgh.

A3 Event partners

A3 Sponsors

The not-for-profit event is being organised by the Roslin Innovation Centre, in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, the University’s Roslin InstituteMidlothian Science Zone, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. Agri-EPI and its fellow UK agri-tech innovation centre CIEL are amongst the event’s sponsors and are providing input to the programme.

Other partners involved are: Visit Scotland, Highlands and islands Enterprise (HIE), Data Driven Innovation (DDI), Global Academy of Agriculture and food security (University of Edinburgh); Scottish Africa Business Association (SABA), European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) food, Moredun Research Institute, SRUC, SEFARI and most recent signed up partner Zoetis.

Agri-EPI is proud partner and encourages her industry, academic and governmental network to keep an eye out on event promotion closer to date and be sure not to miss this first ever A3 event!

Interested?

For more information and to register for A3 Scotland 2022, the inaugural conference for the Animal Health, Agritech and Aquaculture (AAA) sectors, please visit: bit.ly/A3Scotland2022.

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

A real game-changer for dairy cow health

Dairy farmers and vets have enlisted the help of video gaming experts to enhance cow health in a unique new study.

The Innovate UK-funded SmARtview research project sees Agri-EPI Centre and UK Veterinary Group VetPartners join forces with experts at award-winning games developer Pocket Sized Hands and Abertay University’s School of Design & Informatics.

The project aims to develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system that can recognise a cow by its skin patterns and use a ‘HoloLens’ Augmented Reality (AR) headset to display health and productivity data about an animal as a user views it.

Agri-EPI’s innovative South West Dairy Development Centre is the project test-bed.

Agri-EPI Head of Dairy Duncan Forbes explained:

“By using the type of technology that is becoming extremely advanced in the video gaming world, we hope to be able to take the care and treatment of dairy cattle into a new era.

The beauty of this project is that it combines farmers’ and vet’s experienced ‘eyes’ with real-time data: technology is being used to enhance, rather than replace, human skills. In addition, SmARtview could provide a solution to one of the key challenges of on-farm technology – while different devices like robotic milkers, sensors and collars can already collect plentiful data, its lack of integration limits insight to drive decision-making.”

Typically, a vet or farmer faces the time-consuming process of examining a cow then going to the farm office to review a variety of paper of PC-based records before determining what kind of intervention may be needed. SmARtview would make the whole process much more efficient and effective.

The new system will be trialled by vets and allied professionals from VetPartners’ practices around the UK. Rachel Dean, VetPartners’ Director of Clinical Research and Excellence in Practice said:

“The farming industry is changing and VetPartners wants to support farmers through this change by offering the best capabilities in terms of health, production and welfare. SmARtview has huge potential for vets and allied professionals, such as foot trimmers and veterinary technicians, who work on farms of all types and sizes. It is a unique and very innovative project which could transform the way they practice.”

Abertay is a world leader in applying games technology to the business, education and healthcare sectors and the University is ranked number one in Europe for videogames education.

Pocket Sized Hands and Abertay University’s School of Design and Informatics are bringing world-leading expertise to the project. Abertay’s Professor Ruth Falconer explained that the first challenge is to develop the AI technology capable of recognising an individual animal. She said:

“Our aim is to put new technology to best use in order to solve problems in the real world. This project brings together our research areas of AI, User Experience and games technology. We aim to develop ‘marker-less’ technology which can achieve the difficult task of recognising a cow by the patterning of its skin and shape in an environment where it is likely to be dirty and the light and weather conditions change frequently.”

When the researchers have cracked the challenge of cow-recognition, Pocket Sized Hands (PSH) will lead the prototype AR development and lend their expertise to the User Experience (UX) aspect of the technology. Their skills with ensure the augmented reality display of data is presented to the user in an engaging way.

PSH Chief Executive Gary McCartan explained:

“It’s really exciting to be applying technology we normally use in game development to the world of farming. AR combines the real world with digital assets – information that is usually tied to a screen can now be viewed in the real world. Use of the technology is in its early stages. For example, current headsets are quite bulky which would not be practical in a farm situation. We will be looking at ways to allow cow data to be easily accessed and understood.”

The initiation of this project was supported by video games cluster InGAME.

Research to use artificial intelligence to identify sick livestock

The welfare of livestock could be improved thanks to a new research project that will use novel artificial intelligence methods combined with behavioural analytics to provide rapid and reliable insights to animal health for farmers across the UK. The research and commercial feasibility program, co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, will be led by the Quant Foundry (QF) in collaboration with the University of Bristol Vet School and Agri-EPI Centre.

The team headed by Dr Chris Cormack at QF will run a feasibility study with Professor Andrew Dowsey and animal welfare experts, Dr Siobhan Mullan, Dr Suzanne Held and Professor Michael Mendl at the University of Bristol and Agri-EPI Centre at their South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset.

The project aims to provide a new cost-effective solution for farmers and vets to identify illness in livestock providing not only cost savings but also a means to reduce the impact of farming on the environment.

Dr Chris Cormack, Managing Director at the Quant Foundry (www.quantfoundry.com), said: “In conjunction with our research partners, Bristol Veterinary School and Agri-EPI, the study of behavioural analytics in animals will open up a new era in artificial intelligence driven solutions for farmers. We have great hopes that not only can we help farmers provide improved care for their livestock but also help reduce their economic costs and their environmental impact.”

Professor Andrew Dowsey, Chair in Population Health Data Science at Bristol Veterinary School and a specialist in data solutions for health and agriculture, added:

“This collaboration is a fantastic opportunity to translate cutting-edge artificial intelligence approaches to build upon the UK’s high standards in cattle welfare and support farmers in our targets for net-zero emissions.”

Duncan Forbes, Agri-EPI centre’s Head of Dairy said:

“Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre is dedicated to the development and evaluation of exciting emerging technologies such as this and we’re looking forward to working with Quant Foundry and Bristol Vet School.”

Throughout the project the collaborative team will be actively seeking partners to help them commercialise and build capability as the project matures, this can range from direct investment or from interested companies looking to complement their existing activities in this upcoming area.

New animal health report highlights lessons learned Covid-19 pandemic

Lessons learned from Covid-19 pandemic highlighted in new animal health report

The animal health industry needs to be better prepared for disruptions like Covid-19 and have resiliency plans in place to handle supply and demand.

This is the ‘lessons learned’ message from Agri-EPI’s Chief Executive Dave Ross in a new report exploring the impact of Covid-19 on the global animal health industry.

Report Animal Health Industry Response COVID19 - Kisaco ResearchThe production of Animal Health Industry Response to COVID-19 and the Rise of Telemedicine was co-ordinated by Kisaco Research. It seeks to assess the full impact of the outbreak across the sector, and provide insight in the form of industry surveys, data collection, discussions, and interviews with market leaders and emerging companies.

Dave was one of 55 contributing experts from around the world. He comments in the report on labour shortages and the skills gap from COVID and Brexit, the issue of food protectionism and overall lessons learned from the advent of the pandemic.

On the latter point, Dave says that the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the food supply chain when a disruptor comes into the market and highlighted the lack of preparations companies and suppliers had to pivot to other markets.

He cites in the report the example of the UK dairy sector, where 35 million litres of milk were being produced a day, pre-Covid. A significant proportion of the approximately 10 million litres destined for the service sector ended up being wasted when demand stopped abruptly due to lockdown. This led to a subsequent price collapse, with the current system ‘not being able to turn off the tap’ on supply.

Dave also highlights how the crisis has brought a renewed focus on the need to reduce food waste, with 9.5 million tons of food being lost each year in the UK.

The report coincides with Animal Health Investment USA, a large scale event on 12 and 13 October connecting businesses and investors around opportunities in the animal health industry. Dave sits on the event’s Global Advisory Board.

To get hold of the report, please get in touch with Kisaco Research.