THE LARGEST avian research facility of its kind opened its doors in early June.

The Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre represents a £5.6m investment and was co-funded by CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock). It is primarily a trial facility for feed and behaviour studies into broilers, layers and turkeys.

The site, just outside Edinburgh, is close to research facilities at Scotland’s Rural College’s (SRUC) Bush Estate and Easter Howgate campus. It is also close to the Roslin Institute which is pioneering genetic research into poultry.

Jos Houdijk, who runs the facility, said: “One of the big advantages we have is that, being so close to other research centres we will be able to achieve synergies that can’t be replicated elsewhere.”

Once fully operational about 30-35 people will work on the site.

A small slaughterhouse is also being built in partnership with Aviagen on the site.

It replaces the avian research facility in the SRUC’s Auchencruive, Ayrshire, which closed in March.

For broilers, a windowed barn with room for 144 pens has been built and it is thought this is the largest facility of its kind in Europe. About 70% of the trial work will be for commercial clients, according to the site’s team leader Prof Houdijk.

He added that, of those trials, more than half would be related to feed-additive studies that examine the impact of different products on gut health.

CIEL invested £1.9 million in the new centre, with funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. SRUC invested £3.6 million with support from the Scottish Funding Council’s Financial Transactions Programme.

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “The Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre will be of huge benefit to Scotland, the United Kingdom and globally.

“The people and facilities based here will help attract research investment from across the world.”