A SECOND phase of a multi-million pound project to tackle endemic livestock disease is underway. 

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have announced the £9 million funding for 14 projects – four of which will benefit poultry production.

See also: How regulated salmonella testing takes place on broiler farms

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 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.

The poultry projects include:

  1. Monitoring the gut microbiome via AI and omics: a new approach to detect infection and AMR and to support novel therapeutics in broiler precision farm. Principal Investigator: Dr Tania Dottorini, University of NottinghamPreventing drops in egg production in UK free-range flocks: understanding the interactions between farm practices, flock coinfections and immunity. Principal Investigator: Dr Kannan Ganapathy, University of Liverpool
  2. Unravelling the aetiology of stunting in UK broiler flocks through the use of novel microdissection and viral meta-transcriptomic sequencing tools. Principal Investigator: DrVictoria Smyth, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute
  3. Effects of co-infections on Marek’s disease in poultry and development of novel recombinant Marek’s disease virus vector vaccines. Principal Investigator: Dr Yongxui Yao, The Pirbright Institute

UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “The UK remains committed to working collaboratively with farmers to overcome infectious animal disease. 

“I welcome the second phase of this exciting research initiative.

“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.”