Animal Science and Welfare - Agri-EPI Centre - Agricultural innovation

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.

Aquaculture Innovation Centre opens on Scotland’s Argyll coast

An array of aquaculture specialists, academics and industry representatives gathered at Loch Fyne on Scotland’s Argyll coast yesterday, 15th June, to witness the formal opening of Agri-EPI Centre’s new Marine Aquaculture Innovation Centre (MAIC).

 

Guests of the launch event were welcomed by Managing Director of Otter Ferry Seafish, Alastair Barge, and CEO of Agri-EPI Centre, Dave Ross, who introduced the new centre.

 

“The facility is scaled and configured to bridge gaps identified by industry, including testing of instrumentation and validation of operational welfare indicators, and other trials, under controlled conditions with near market-sized farmed fish. The proposed investment is industry led – responding to industry demand and taking design and direction from that demand.”

 

Guests enjoyed a tour of the facilities, a networking lunch, and the witnessing of the formal opening of the centre.

 

In conjunction with independent aquaculture company, Otter Ferry Seafish (OFS) – and jointly funded by Innovate UK and Agri-EPI Centre – the Marine Aquaculture Innovation Centre offers fully serviced research and development facilities to aquaculture producers and technology providers and is aimed at helping to drive sustainable solutions and improve efficiency for the UK aquaculture industry.

 

Alastair Barge, Managing Director of Otter Ferry Seafish, explained:

“Research has been at the heart of the company since day one, but our recent collaboration with Agri-EPI has added new impact and a new species in salmon. We have a great mix of industry and research, and together we can forge the way as innovators in sustainable aquaculture.”

 

Agri-EPI Centre has over 220 industry focused stakeholder members spanning retailers, supply chain associations, and high-tech companies, large and small, and this collaboration helps drive innovation and solutions within the sector.

 

“Enabling assets such as the new Marine Aquaculture Innovation Centre provide industry and academia with bespoke industry-focused facilities to perform development testing, validation and solution-finding.”

 

If you would like more information about Agri-EPI Centre, please visit: https://twc.agri-epicentre.com/

Dairy welfare and World Milk Day

This world milk day we are highlighting the importance of collaboration and working together to support the development of sustainable and efficient dairy technologies that prioritise animal health and wellbeing.

Agri-EPI Centre recently hosted a dairy research collaboration event with our sister centre, CIEL and member, Westpoint Farm Vets, at our state of the art South West Dairy Development Centre. The event brought together delegates from 13 companies and academic institutions involved in dairy welfare, including Agri-EPI Centre, CIEL, Westpoint Farm Vets, Farm Vets South West, Kingshay, Bristol Vet School, Vet Partners, Innovate UK, Duchy College, Aberystwyth University, Queen’s University Belfast, Steanbow Farms, and University of Nottingham.

Discussions involved the importance for the farming industry to prioritise high welfare, achieved by being compassionate to the mental and physical condition of animals. Dr. Reynolds, a professor of large animal production at California’s Western University, stressed the importance of collaboration across research and industry to address welfare issues, a message which resonated with the participating researchers, vets and farmers.

Matt Dobbs, Managing Director of Westpoint Veterinary Group and close partner of Agri-EPI Centre said:

“I was pleased with Agri-EPI hosting leading dairy researchers from across the UK at the new state of the art Dairy Development Centre in Somerset. With a keynote speaker passionate about animal welfare and the backdrop of the new welfare focused Dairy Centre to stimulate discussion, we were delighted that the group committed to continue collaborating to further enhance the UK’s leading reputation for farm animal welfare. Key to the future will be the application of technology and the group agreed to focus on early detection of farm health and welfare issues.”

Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre is a state of the art dairy facility that demonstrates profitable and resource efficient milk production, uses the latest technology available to optimise animal welfare and sustainable milk production, integrates robotic milking with precision grazing, and provides state-of-the-art facilities for research, development and demonstration.

Kaiapoi Farm hosts Agri-EPI’s second farm walk

Agri-EPI celebrated another successful and sunny day on-farm at Kaiapoi farm on Thursday, 19th May. Farmers Rob and Jo Hodgkins led a group of our Agri-EPI community including tech developers, farmers and industry representatives on a farm tour leading discussions around transitioning to regenerative practices, inter-row hoeing, novel sheep breeding techniques and more. Marcus Travers from Soil Essentials also led a fascinating talk on soil carbon and nitrogen retention.

‘Kaiapoi’ is Maori meaning ‘food over water’. Rob and Jo Hodgkins set up Kaiapoi in 2013 with 200 ewes on 60 rented acres of grass, and have imported Romney Rams from New Zealand to create the ultimate outdoor lambing ewe for the UK climate. They have driven the business forward hard and now run 2250 ewes across 1000ac semi improved grassland and solar panels and farm 1600ac of arable crops around North Hertfordshire.

“Getting people together on farm is incredibly important to showcase first-hand the opportunities in tech development that will deliver big impact on farms” – Claire Hodge, Head of Agri-Tech (Crops) at Agri-EPI Centre

 

New tech to transform global agriculture – 2021 Excellence Awards winners announced

New technology is set to transform global agriculture, and two agtech companies recognised for their importance in animal health and environmental protection are making rapid progress.

The first – awarded for its contribution to British agriculture – focuses on animal health. Pruex is using non-infective bacteria to improve air quality in poultry units, reducing ammonia emissions and the requirement for antibiotics..

ALVÁTECH Water – awarded for its global impact – has developed a clean, sustainable way to desalinise soil, enabling farmers to irrigate with saline water, reduce water use and even restore salinized soil to healthy, productive farmland.

Both companies were recognised at Agri-EPI’s inaugural Agri-Tech Excellence Awards in October 2021, and are now reaping the rewards of their success by extending their commercial reach around the globe.

“Last year we grew very fast, and we’re now planning a large funding round to further expand worldwide,” explains Zac Gazit, CEO at ALVÁTECH. “We started working with Agri-EPI in December 2020 as we realised they could help with several key things. They know the industry and trends in technology, and we were looking to work with farmers and governments.”

One of the biggest benefits of winning this important award – aside from the global prestige – is an introduction to the formidable judging panel, comprising Syngenta, Kubota, Leyton, Barclays and Marks & Spencer.

“M&S is buying fresh produce from farmers using our devices, and we’re having good, constructive conversations with the whole panel; there are synergies in our ethos and business and we hope to be able to work with all of them.”

ALVÁTECH is now working in 24 countries across six continents, both with government and non-governmental organisations as well as directly with 1000s of farmers.

“Our technology dissociates salt into its components which enables farmers to immediately use less water and fertilisers,” says Mr Gazit. “It is a life-changer for entire regions and millions of farmers in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.”

Farmers are using 20-60 less water, 30% less fertiliser, and are reducing soil salinity by 30% on average. As a result, yields are boosted over 20% – although the more degraded the soil the greater the scale of improvement farmers see.

“Our farmers are reducing costs while improving the soil for the next generation. This is an important green legacy for our planet.”

Pruex is in a similar position; it’s working with 1000s of farmers across the UK, Europe and South Africa, and looks forward to having discussions with M&S following the award.

Using beneficial bacteria to compete with disease-causing strains is a relatively new concept, but Pruex’s game-changing idea is an automated spraying system to apply the bacteria throughout the sheds. This not only benefits the chickens themselves, but also reduces ammonia emissions. This improves air quality for workers and birds, boosting productivity and the birds’ immune systems, and many farms are able to reduce their use of antibiotics; reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance.

“It’s proving very popular,” says Sarah Dusgate, research and development manager at Pruex. “We’ve been working with poultry farmers from the start of the business, but we have developed a new technology that will help to deploy our bacteria products more effectively and easily.”

· For more information visit https://agri-epicentre.com, www.alva-water.com or www.pruex.co.uk.

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.