Promoting animal health for sustainable farming

Intensive farming methods have led to an increase in production-associated disease in farm animals which is threatening animal welfare, product quality and industry profitability. EU-funded research is leading the way in developing innovative solutions to improve animal health in pig and poultry farming.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 17 July 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & foodAnimal health and welfare  |  Food safety & health risks
Innovation
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Cyprus  |  Czech Republic  |  Denmark  |  Finland  |  France  |  Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Spain  |  Switzerland  |  United Kingdom
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Promoting animal health for sustainable farming

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© Budimir Jevtic #105880374, source: fotolia.com, 2018

A rapidly growing world population is causing increasing concern about future food security. However, the resulting intensification of farming methods to produce more has led to a rise in the incidence of production-associated disease among farm animals, as well greater use of antibiotics. These so-called ‘production diseases’ compromise the health and welfare of the animals while generating inefficiencies which reduce profitability for the farming industry and negatively affect product quality for the consumer.

The EU-funded PROHEALTH project is looking specifically at the impact of such diseases in pig and poultry farming across Europe, where they are estimated to cause a 10 % to 15 % reduction in efficiency, resulting in huge financial losses. In response to the challenge faced by European farming resulting from the increase in production diseases and the emergence of new infections, this EU-funded research has been instrumental in looking for new tools and innovative solutions to improve animal health and welfare.

“We recognise that the causes of animal pathologies linked to the intensification of production are multifactorial, and often interlinked, so we have taken a holistic approach to investigating the various causes of production diseases in pigs and poultry and developing effective and multifaceted control strategies,” explains project coordinator Ilias Kyriazakis of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

Investing in novel solutions

The PROHEALTH project successfully brought together partners from 11 European countries and a wide range of disciplines and expertise. It integrated research from areas as diverse as molecular analytics, animal husbandry and genetics, immunology, environmental, social and economic science, and digital and data analytics, and translated them into innovative strategies to reduce production diseases in the pig, chicken and turkey farming industries.

A first step was to quantify the economic impact of production diseases in Europe, assess current biosecurity management strategies, identify specific risk factors and establish associations between diseases and a variety of criteria, such as genetic selection, hygiene and environmental conditions. Researchers also worked on developing better diagnostic tools.

Through large-scale industry trials, the project is currently validating new and innovative solutions that take into account the concerns of European consumers with regard to intensive farming whilst offering economically viable options to European farmers.

Taking stock

“The aim is to create a system that, although intensive, is friendlier to the animal and addresses public concerns about issues such as antimicrobial resistance and overuse of pharmaceutical products,” explains Kyriazakis. “It offers farmers a range of non-pharmaceutical solutions which will help prevent and control disease and improve the health of their stock in a cost-effective way.”

Information on the project results is shared widely through a variety of ways, including an e-knowledge platform, an online poultry health journal and a digital application called ‘Swine Dialogue’. In addition, peer-reviewed publications, participation in scientific conferences, and a series of ‘best practice’ guidelines and policy briefs will further help to support decision-making among veterinarians, farmers and policymakers.

Project details

  • Project acronym: PROHEALTH
  • Participants: United Kingdom (Coordinator), Finland, Switzerland, France, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic
  • Project N°: 613574
  • Total costs: € 12 006 750
  • EU contribution: € 8 997 089
  • Duration: December 2013 to November 2018

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