UK invests £9 million in fight against endemic livestock disease

14 projects in total will receive funding
calendar icon 4 August 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have announced £9 million funding for phase two of the ground-breaking endemic livestock disease initiative.

The £11.5 million initiative commenced in 2021 and seeks to transform the UK livestock sector by reducing the burden of endemic diseases on animal health, welfare and productivity.

Developed in consultation with academia, industry and policy makers, the endemic livestock disease initiative focuses on fostering collaborative research between academia, industry and end-users. The goal is to deliver innovative on-farm solutions that will effectively mitigate the impact of endemic diseases on the UK livestock sector.

To date, the initiative has successfully facilitated the formation of 45 new industry partnerships, forging strong collaborative networks. Moreover, it has engaged with over 170 end-users including farmers, veterinarians and policymakers to ensure that the research outcomes directly address their practical needs.

Phase two of the initiative is set to kickstart this summer, with a total of 14 ambitious projects receiving funding. These projects span the breadth of the livestock sector, encompassing pigs, poultry, beef, sheep and dairy. Of particular note is the significant emphasis on digital agriculture and machine learning, with nine of the projects incorporating cutting-edge technologies to advance disease monitoring, diagnosis and prevention.

“Endemic diseases in the UK livestock sector pose significant challenges to animal welfare, productivity and sustainable farming practices," said professor Guy Poppy, Interim Executive Chair at BBSRC.

“By bringing together the collective expertise of academia, industry and end-users, we are confident this initiative will lead to ground-breaking advancements in disease control, fostering a healthier and more productive livestock sector.”

“The UK remains committed to working collaboratively with farmers to overcome infectious animal disease. I welcome the second phase of this exciting research initiative," said UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss. “This funding brings together farmers, vets and researchers to develop and test new solutions to some of our most serious animal health challenges on farm, making a real difference to the health and wellbeing of the UK’s livestock.”

The 14 pioneering projects receiving funding from phase two of the initiative represent the cutting-edge of research, harnessing the potential of digital technologies, advanced diagnostics and innovative vaccine development to address the challenges of endemic disease in UK livestock.

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