Zoetis to Lead UK Project on Analysis of Pig Health, Welfare

UK - Zoetis is to lead a US$3-million project funded by Agri-Tech Catalyst Award from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency into the use of analytics to help pork producers improve pig herd wellness and production efficiency.
calendar icon 14 November 2014
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A consortium of academic and animal health industry partners in the UK, led by Zoetis Inc., is embarking on a pioneering 42-month project that will develop visual imaging methods and digital technologies to help producers improve the health and wellness of pig herds and enhance production efficiency.

The US$3-million project is funded by an Agri-Tech Catalyst Award from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The partners will develop these advanced technologies to analyse pig behaviour and performance, looking for early warning signs of disease or stress and pave the way to treatment and care sooner than has previously been possible.

Michelle L. Haven, a veterinarian and Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Alliances and Solutions at Zoetis, said: “This work has the potential to hasten the advent of precision farming in pork production and is a strong example of Zoetis’ commitment to innovative services and technologies for our customers.

“We have assembled leading UK-based partners with a complementary mix of capabilities needed to uncover new insights for veterinarians and pork producers to enhance animal wellness, bolster production efficiency, and improve profitability and competitiveness.”

Zoetis brings to the project core capabilities in supporting livestock customers with animal health and productivity, including delivering comprehensive swine health solutions and digital products from its Center for Digital Innovation, as well as expertise in analytics and mobile technologies.

This is matched by the world-leading expertise of the Newcastle University team who bring deep expertise in both animal and veterinary science, and digital technologies.

Ilias Kyriazakis, Professor of Animal Health and Nutrition at the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University, said: “We believe a combination of video imaging and data mining technologies can serve as a cornerstone to continuous improvement in animal welfare and sustainable farming.

“Armed with these data, veterinarians, animal scientists and producers can focus more on preventive medicine and health strategies to capture production efficiencies, making the most of finite resources. We envision this project serving as a catalyst for innovation in the pig farming industry both in the UK and the broader European community.”

The development of the automated system will build upon the QScan video imaging system from Aberdeenshire-based Scottish company, Innovent Technology Limited. QScan is currently being used in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Brazil and China to monitor weight gain of pigs.

Innovent Director, Willie Thomson, said: “The QScan system provides producers with real-time growth information about their animals. Through this research we explore how this versatile system can be extended as an analytic tool to help enhance pig wellness and performance.”

Innovent is closely associated to Harbro, a UK performance leader in nutrition, which is also contributing expertise to the project.

One of the UK’s leading specialised veterinary consultancies, RAFT Solutions Ltd, headquartered in Yorkshire, England, will strengthen the project team with their focus on research in sustainable food production through their network of commercial client trial farms and capabilities in training and coaching livestock producers.

Food Futures Director, Nigel Woolfenden, said: “We see this project as a prime opportunity to demonstrate the sustainability and profitability outcomes that can be achieved when on-farm data enables preventive healthcare and wellness initiatives. We are looking forward to working with the group in this project.”

According to Alejandro Bernal, Executive Vice President at Zoetis and President, Europe, Africa and Middle East region, this project is a prime example of effective public-private alliances in animal health research.

He added: “By combining resources and sharing expertise, we can speed advances in animal health and support livestock veterinarians and producers as they strive to limit disease and increase productivity in their animals to supply increasing global demand for high quality meat. We at Zoetis are honoured to be a partner in this project.”

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