Animal Science and Welfare - Page 3 of 4 - 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.

Farmers to help identify key agri-tech areas in Scotland

With a survey focused on key agri-tech areas of Scotland, as part of a wider project funded by Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI), beef and sheep farmers, consultants, vets and researchers are being asked for their views on the use of modern technology. Information collected in a new survey will be used to identify key areas for the use of agri-tech to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability in both beef and sheep production systems in Scotland.

Survey agri-tech Scotland

We invite farmers and food producers to fill out the agri-tech survey. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and can be completed anonymously. This survey can also be completed by respondents outside Scotland and closes on 31st of August.

 

SRUC’s Jenna Bowen, who is leading the study, said:

“The potential benefits of using agri-tech in the beef and sheep sector are far reaching. This survey will help us to understand industry views and experiences with existing systems from participants who use these systems on a regular basis, and help identify where research should be prioritised.”

Project partners

The project team includes Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), The Moredun Research Institute and Agri-EPI Centre.

Agri-EPI Logo Primary Square
Moredun Research Institute

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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.

A3 Scotland 2020 rescheduled due to COVID-19

A3 Scotland is postponed to 2021

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Organising Committee for A3 Scotland 2020 has made the difficult decision to postpone its inaugural event, which was due to take place from 30 September to 1 October 2020. Given the ongoing uncertainty, the Committee took the view that it would be impossible to go ahead with international gathering, built around face-to-face networking and site tours.

We are hugely disappointed to have to postpone the inaugural A3 conference but take comfort from the fact that the fantastic support shown by our sponsors and delegates will be maintained for the rescheduled conference. Depending on progress in easing lockdown restrictions, we now plan to hold the event on 21 and 22 April 2021.

It is with great regret that we have had to reschedule what promised to be a fantastic international gathering bringing together key organisations across animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture. We know there has been huge enthusiasm for the event but the health and safety of our speakers, sponsors and delegates is of our highest priority.

We are pleased to say that the rescheduled event will offer the same strong 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.

In the meantime, the Committee will be working hard to ensure they maintain momentum in planning and promotion. We are confident that the delay to the event will not dent what promises to be a highlight of the 2021 conference calendar.

Future updates about A3 Scotland can be found online at www.roslininnovationcentre.com.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support. We look forward to seeing you in 2021!

The A3 Organising Committee
Lawrence Brown (Consultant and Veterinary Surgeon), Richard Mole (Moredun Research Institute), Neil Clelland (Scotland’s Rural College), Lyndsay Chapman (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock), Andrea McColl (Highlands and Islands Enterprise), Yoni van Breukelen (Agri-EPI Centre), David Telford (Knowledge Transfer Network) and John Mackenzie (Roslin Innovation Centre).

Solutions to nutritional challenges of dairy calf rearing

Optimising lifelong productivity

Calf Research has shown that the way a dairy calf is cared for in its early life stages can have major and long-lasting effects on the lifetime trajectory of that animal. This has significance not just at the farm level, but throughout the industry, where issues such as animal welfare, animal diseases and food safety can have substantial consequences.

Improvements in calf rearing will play a crucial role in the future sustainability of British dairy produce. Many problems exist in current calf rearing systems which threaten to restrict the sustainable development of dairy cattle in the UK. When managed incorrectly, dairy calves are susceptible to a range of health and welfare issues associated with inappropriate nutrition and weaning that can have long term impacts on the lifetime productivity of that animal in the dairy herd.

Calf Research & Innovation Facility

Agri-EPI has made substantial investments in the Calf Research & Innovation Facility, a joint venture with SRUC to facilitate the measurement and management of key elements in calf rearing to optimise lifelong productivity. Colostrum management is the foundation of successful calf rearing. Colostrum contains high concentrations of protective antibodies to support a calf’s immunity, as well as a range of other constituents which are crucial to calf growth and development. Factors such as quality and amount of colostrum, as well as the timescale over which colostrum is delivered can all impact the future health status of an animal.

Getting right the energy and nutrient requirements of each individual animal goes far beyond colostrum. Dry feed, forages and water, as well as supplements and milk replacers also make up significant areas of the calf’s diet and all impact on animal health. Recent research findings suggest that the gut microbiome of the dairy calf is the key opportunity to improve early life gut health.

In partnership with you

The overarching aim of Agri-EPI’s dairy work is to develop and trial precision technology and techniques which support sustainable and productive UK milk production. Under an imminent Agricultural Policy reform, British dairy farmers will be required to constantly adapt, innovate and invest to ensure security for the future of the industry.

Agri-EPI’s Calf Research Facility, at SRUC’s Crichton Royal Dairy Farm in Dumfries, allows the daily monitoring of a calf’s consumption of milk, water, forage and concentrates, and its weight gain. Weigh cells in individual feeders record each calf’s intake every time they eat or drink. The data gathered by the units within the facility can be combined with data from ‘animal-mounted’ sensors, such as anklets recording an animal’s activity levels. The result is a comprehensive picture of an animal’s health and development, and how changes to intakes may influence these factors longer-term. The facility also creates opportunities for longer-term research into how different nutritional strategies may influence an animal’s lifetime health and productivity. For example, by considering how different milk formulations may impact on an animal’s growth and productivity.

Agri-EPI and SRUC are keen to partner with individual farmers, calf feed manufacturers, dairy cooperatives, processors, retailers and the wider supply chain to undertake research and trials to develop the latest technologies and techniques in calf rearing.

Example areas for research and trialling at the facility include:

  • Feed trials
  • Microbiome
  • Growth performance
  • Nutrient digestibility
  • Blood biochemical indices
  • Rumen development

For more information about our Calf Research Facility at SRUC Crichton Royal or to discuss a project/trial idea, please contact Kasi McReddie, Agr-EPI Centre Business Development Manager – Livestock.

Proudly supporting Scotland’s inaugural A3 conference

Animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture

Agri-EPI is proud to be sponsoring a major global conference focused on encouraging innovation, investment and collaboration in animal health and sustainable food production. 

The inauagural A3 Scotland event takes place in Edinburgh between 30 September and 1 October this year. ‘A3’ refers to animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture.  

The theme of the conference is ‘transition to net zero’. It will bring together industry, investors and policymakers from around the world to discuss strategic partnerships and discover the latest R&D. 

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 Institute, Midlothian 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. 

A3 recognition

With the largest cluster of animal bioscience/aquaculture researchers in Europe, Scotland is already a global player in the ‘A3’ sectorRoslin is an internationally recognised named in the field of life sciences, not least because and is the birthplace of Dolly the Sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell. 

The conference programme offers two core days (30 Sept. to 01 Oct.) 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. 

Agri-EPI Centre’s Chief Executive, Dave Ross said:  

“It is very exciting that the inaugural A3 conference is taking place on the doorstep of our Northern Hub in Edinburgh. This looks set to be a major and influential global event and it is being held in a very apt location given the fact that Scotland, and the Roslin area in particular, are internationally recognised as having strengths in A3, both in the research and commercial environments.

We’re very pleased to be involved and would like to encourage any of our members and partners with an interest in the theme covered by the event to sign up.”

Interested?

For more information and to register for A3 Scotland 2020, the inaugural conference for the Animal Health, Agritech and Aquaculture (AAA) sectors, please visit: bit.ly/A3Scotland.

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.

New OPTIBEEF project aims for improved beef production

A new research and development project involving the beef industry, scientists and precision engineering companies aims to enhance returns for beef producers while helping processors become more efficient.

OPTIBEEF will drive improvements in the productivity, quality and the sustainability of beef production by improving the accuracy of current methods of abattoir carcass grading and creating the first platform for integrating data from ‘calf to carcass’.

Beef monitoring

In the abattoir, the OPTIBEEF system will use new technology – 3D imaging and fat sensing – to provide a more accurate and detailed measurement of carcasses and their components. On-farm technologies will be developed for ‘whole-life’ monitoring of individual animals, including advanced 3D cameras, novel fat sensing, automated weighing and feed intake recording.

The integration of the data gathered on-farm and in the abattoir will shed more light on the factors influencing carcass yield and drive improvements in product quality and consistency. Using this information, farmers will in turn be able to make informed decisions to optimise nutrition, health and welfare, slaughter selections and genetic selections.

The lead partner is HallMark Veterinary and Compliance Services. HallMark recently acquired the UK’s independent carcass classification business, MLCSL (Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Limited) from AHDB. HallMark will work with Scotbeef; Scotland’s Rural College; Innovent Technology Limited; National Physical Laboratory; Harbro; Hectare Agritech; Ritchie Ltd. and Agri-EPI Centre to deliver OPTIBEEF over the next three years.

HallMark Chairman David Peace said:

The established, manual method of classifying carcasses relies entirely on human judgement. It is becoming increasingly challenging to recruit and train enough staff and that process can take a year. So, the development of automated classification technology, as a supplement to our current services, will allow us to maintain service levels to customers, with the objective if continual improvement. A dual approach embracing new technology will provide a robust way forward to meet industry challenges.

The on-farm element of the project is about ensuring that livestock are arriving at the abattoir at the optimum point, reducing the number of animals which don’t, at the point of slaughter, meet processors’ specifications. This will in turn optimise returns for producers by helping them be more selective on-farm, leading to greater efficiencies through processing facilities.

The project will also target the ability to predict yield of primal cuts; something the industry has wanted for a very long time.

The three-year project has won funding of £1.7m from UK Research and Innovation, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, as part of a package to support ‘Productive and Sustainable Crop and Ruminant Agricultural Systems’.

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.

US Dairy Welfare expert speaks about animal health and welfare

There must be a move away from thinking of farm animal ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ as separate issues, for the benefit of both animals and productivity, according to renowned US dairy welfare expert Dr Jim Reynolds.

Speaking at a dairy research collaboration event hosted by Agri-EPI Centre, CIEL and VetPartners, Prof Reynolds said high welfare, achieved by being compassionate to the mental and physical condition of animals, must be regarded by all in the farming industry as being at the forefront of animal health.

Dr. Reynolds said: “If we are going to use animals for purposes, we must provide them with good lives. This involves considering if the animal has positive emotions – is happy – or if the animal is anxious, afraid or in pain. The science of animal welfare has progressed from focusing on reducing bad things that happen to animals to including what is necessary for an animal to have a good life.

“Providing animals with ‘good’ things such as clean, dry, and comfortable housing, also reduces the ‘bad’ things, such as disease and decreased production. We therefore need to bring the approach to animal ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ back together and build this into the cost of production.”

Dr Reynolds, a professor of large animal production at California’s Western University, is currently on a three-week tour of the UK, where he is speaking at various meetings and events.

He attended the collaboration meeting at Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, which was attended by 13 organisations and companies involved in dairy welfare.

Professor Reynolds stressed the importance of collaboration across research and industry to address welfare issues, a message which chimed with the participating researchers, vets and farmers.

Agri-EPI and CIEL have invested in new and complementary capabilities that are now available for the dairy sector to use in finding transformative solutions for this important sector.

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.”

The meeting delegates were from:

  • Agri-EPI Centre
  • Farm Vets South West
  • CIEL
  • Kingshay
  • Bristol Vet School
  • Vet Partners
  • Innovate UK
  • Duchy College
  • West Point Vets
  • Aberystwyth University
  • Queen’s University, Belfast
  • Steanbow Farms
  • University of Nottingham

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.