A consortium of academic and animal health industry partners in the UK, led by animal health company Zoetis is embarking on a US$3 million 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 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 says, "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, Animal Health and Nutrition, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University believes a combination of video imaging and data mining technologies can serve as a cornerstone to continuous improvement in animal welfare and sustainable farming. This will enable veterinarians, scientists and producers to focus on preventive medicine and health strategies.
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 is closely associated to Harbro, a UK performance leader in nutrition, who 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. 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.