FARMING academics working from a base in Northumberland have been awarded a record grant to lead a pig and poultry welfare research project.
Newcastle University, which runs Cockle Park Farm near Morpeth, has received 11.9million Euros, more than £10million, to explore new ways of ensuring sustainable farming in the future.
The fund, which is the largest EU grant ever awarded in animal health, will support the PROHEALTH project that is led by Newcastle University, but involves 22 partners from 11 different countries.
The five-year programme aims to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of intensive pig and poultry farming in Europe, addressing production diseases of animals raised in a range of intensive systems.
It will investigate links between the genetic predisposition of animals and environmental sensors, such as housing, nutrition and animal management.
Newcastle University Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Steve Homans said: “The key point of difference is a holistic approach focusing on understanding the multifactorial dimension of animal diseases linked to the intensification of production, and using this knowledge to develop, evaluate and disseminate effective control and improvement strategies for reducing impact throughout the EU.”
Members of the consortium involved in the project include academic partners, industry experts and small businesses with a range of expertise in veterinary science, animal psychology, genetics, nutrition, welfare and production science.
Executive Vice President of Zoetis, the animal health company partner in the team, Alejandro Bernal said: “This is a very synergistic partnership.
“All parties can benefit from the combined expertise and resource of what is probably the biggest poultry and pigs research network in the world at the moment.
“This is a great example of a private/public initiative to advance our scientific knowledge, respond to the challenges of the future for our world and improve animal health and welfare.”
It is hoped that the initiative will help to find novel diagnostics to predict the propensity of production-disease development in animals, increase awareness of the issues and share knowledge, as well as spearhead technological advances.
It aims to improve modern pig and poultry farming systems across the EU and raise the bar for animal production worldwide.
The partners involved in the project are from Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Switzerland.