The PROHEALTH Consortium has expertise in veterinary science and epidemiology, physiology and immunology, genetics, nutrition, socio-economics, welfare and production science of pigs and poultry.
PROHEALTH Project Leader
The School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AFRD) is the UK’s leading institution for education and research into pig and poultry systems, and has acted as the British Pig Executive’s Centre for National Pig Development Research. The focus of the livestock research is on the consequences of management for animal health welfare and performance, and the environmental impact of monogastric livestock systems. Research is conducted in purpose-built facilities and in collaboration with UK- and EU-based livestock industries.
UNEW also has a strong tradition of research into societal issues associated with food production, such as the social acceptability of novel systems of production and of the production of novel foods. The University-wide Institute for Sustainability enables all research to be put into the context of sustainability. Funding for livestock research comes from both national sources (eg UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and the Department of Food and Rural Affairs) and international sources, such as the EU (current EU-funded projects include PROHEALTH, Feed-a-Gene, and Food4Me).
Accelopment is an EU project management company with long-standing experience in project dissemination and exploitation of results in industry-driven projects. The company is specialised in European research, development and innovation support programmes such as Horizon 2020 and EUREKA/Eurostars.
At accelopment the main contact person regarding the PROHEALTH project is Dr Johannes Ripperger.
Aviagen is a primary breeder of meat chicken and tur¬keys. The source of ge¬netic progress comes from balanced breeding of a wide range of pedigree lines improving health, welfare, production and environmental impact simultaneously and with a safe and secure supply of healthy birds. Balanced breeding goals accompanied with large investments in research and technology have resulted in improvements in liveability, skeletal health, metabolic health and robustness at the same time as improving production performance of Aviagen pedigree chicken and turkey populations at multiple levels.
Aviagen strongly engages with stakeholders, in cooperation with its customers. This includes contributions in meetings with governments, veterinarian authorities, welfare organisations etc. Information about the outlook of welfare improvements in the breeding programme helps policy makers, and society, as well as customers understand in what direction the improvements are heading: e.g., improvement in leg health trend, and reduction in incidence of footpad dermatitis along with the timelines for which an improve.
Specialized in animal nutrition and health, the CCPA GROUP has established itself as a benchmark player in France and abroad, with a turnover of €94 million and 264 employees. The CCPA GROUP offers varied products and services ranges worldwide: premixes and feed additives, dietetic feeds, analysis laboratory, feed formulation, nutritionists support, plant manufacturing support.
Deeply involved in Research and Development, the CCPA GROUP benefits from a R&D department and from one of the largest European private center for applied monogastric research and also works with many research partners in France and abroad.
As part of the PROHEALTH project, the CCPA GROUP is working on animal nutrition and health components:
- Nutritional factors improving the resistance and immunity of animals,
- Maternal nutrition and neonatal pathology,
- Exploration of neonatal mortality causes.
Coren is a cooperative involved in Animal Production. In the Poultry Division, Coren has an integrated production with broiler breeders farms: 710 K animals/y, hatcheries, broiler chickens farms: 40.2 M animals/y, slaughterhouses and feed meals 0.9 M ton/y. There are also facilities for an Experimental Farm, broiler chickens and Pathology Laboratory. Coren’s key markets are Spain and Portugal. In addition Coren has strong commercial relationships with other countries in the EU.
EFFAB is a platform of organisations that are active in the field of farm animal breeding and reproduction. Our members work on the genetic improvement of many different animal species both on land and in aquaculture. We support our members by helping to create an environment which is supportive to sustainable innovations in animal breeding and reproduction.
Within PROHEALTH, EFFAB is involved in several projects concerning dissemination, communication and stakeholder consultations.
INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) is the largest European public institute which carries out mission-oriented research for high-quality foods, competitive and sustainable agriculture and a preserved environment. For the PROHEALTH project, INRA mobilizes it expertise on animal breeding and genetics, physiology, nutrition, immunology, animal health and bioinformatics. INRA has large scale experimental facilities in which in vivo studies will be conducted in pigs. Two groups of INRA are involved in the PROHEALTH project. The PEGASE Unit at Rennes Saint-Gilles is involved as partner in the ‘Neonatal Survival’ project and leads the ‘Genetics’ project. Specifically, INRA conducts in vivo experiments on the influence of sow gestation housing and diet on piglet viability and immune status (‘Neonatal Survival’). Within the ‘Genetics’ project, INRA carries out studies on pigs selected for feed efficiency to evaluate if selection for productive trait changes their susceptibility to leg disorders, digestive and respiratory diseases. The ISP Unit in Tours is a partner within the ‘Microbiology and Immunology’ project, in charge of the analyses of the immune status in pigs and poultry. The goal is to determine associations between changes in host gene expression and microbiota composition with production diseases. These changes will be used for diagnostic purposes and suggestion for diet and management modifications.
JSR Genetics Ltd are part of the group of agriculture-based companies that comprise the family-owned JSR Farming Group established in 1958. Through international franchises, the JSR name is globally recognised in the field of pig genetics. The supply of technical support and pure lines to global partners ensures the JSR name is synonymous with quality pig genetics across four continents. The Genepacker gilt range and the Geneconverter terminal sires remain identifiable the world over. JSR Genetics’ range of licensed boar studs across the UK provide a fast track to genetic improvement with semen available from the highest merit boars, backed by the reassurance of total biosecurity through the renowned JSR Company Health Scheme. JSR Genetics continues to develop a number of highly successful partnerships within the pig meat supply chain as part of its competitive strategy to ensure that its customers remain successful in the rapidly changing market place within a global industry.
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is the leading Finnish institute promoting bioeconomy and sustainable use of renewable natural resources. Luke is a research and expert organization established by merging four institutes in 2015. It has a strong expertise in solving problems related to consumer well-being, sustainable use of natural resources and the competitiveness and quality of production through state-of-art biological economic and other research and new innovations. Luke collaborates actively with industry and academia in Europe and it has been awarded for innovative work.
Luke is leading the socio-economic work package within PROHEALTH. Luke also participates in ‘Risk factors’, ‘Genetic susceptibility’ and ‘Reduction strategies’ section of PROHEALTH. The project team at Luke is led by Professor Dr Jarkko Niemi who is an expert in bio-economic modelling and optimisation of animal production processes. Other team members at Luke include principal research scientist Dr Terhi Latvala, who is an expert on consumer issues, and researchers Alina Sinisalo and Sami Ovaska, who are agricultural economists experienced in statistical analysis. In addition, the team includes senior scientist Hilkka Siljander-Rasi, an animal scientist having vast experience on animal experiment and analyses needed in ‘genetic susceptibility’ work which she carries out with researchers Tiina Kortelainen and Maija Karhapää and research technician Tapio Helenius.
PigCHAMP Pro Europa leads the ‘Environment’ project, related with the role of farm environment on the temporal expression of diseases. In this task, besides PigCHAMP, other companies and universities are involved: Coren, Poultry Health Services Limited, Tivix, Kobenhavns Universitet, Universiteit Gent, Vedanko BVBA and Vitatrace Nutrition LTD. The objective of this PROHEALTH project is to study the impact of farm environment and variability in the apparition of the different diseases or their temporal expression. And indeed, even if it is well known that temperature is an influencer in the trigger of diseases or that water and humidity can predispose animal to disease, there is an overall lack of tangible data to demonstrate the link between farm environment, health and productivity and so to confirm the impact on diseases.
To achieve this objective, data collection will be performed through sensors for environmental data in pig and poultry farm across Europe, and digital devices for health and clinical information specially designed for PROHEALTH projects. With the real-time data collection offered by the different devices, we will be able to visualize the relationship between farm environment and diseases, and start to draw conclusions that will support our final recommendations.
PHS provides a comprehensive poultry veterinary service from 2 locations in the UK. We have long-term working relationships with a broad range of organisations including poultry companies, individual farms, breeding organisations, hatcheries and regularly liaise with researchers and government bodies. We are collaborating with PROHEALTH researchers on a range of topics such as biosecurity assessment, epidemiology of production diseases and interactions between physical and microbial environment and poultry health. It is planned that specific interventions to improve health will be proposed from the basic research being conducted. PHS will help assess the practicality and participate in studies to test the efficacy of such interventions in poultry.
The aim of the Danish Pig Research Centre (PRC) is to develop, test and recommend the best technologies for production of pigs, so that the Danish pig producers maintain their competitiveness in the global market. PRC is also engaged in ensuring the Danish pig producers as good conditions as possible – and on increasing the acceptance of the production from the society.
In PROHEALTH, PRC participates in two of the projects: ‘Risk factors’ concerning risk factors and association between diseases and ‘Neonatal Survival’ concerning neonatal survival and developmental influences on health.
In ‘Risk factors’, PRC will provide data for all tasks and facilitate questionnaires.
In ‘Neonatal Survival’, PRC will investigate the effect of positive handling/treatment of the sow in the period between placement in the farrowing pen and farrowing. The aim is to reduce undesirable reactivity of the sows (reactivity which can affect the offspring in a negative way e.g. crushing of piglets, reduced nursing time). A minimum of 20 sows will be subjected to each of the treatments chosen in each herd.
Tivix is located in Wroclaw, Poland. The company’s primary focus is the agile development of web, cloud, and mobile software applications. Tivix reduce development risk for clients by offering rapid time-to-market, while delivering standards-based software code that is well-structured and well-documented. Tivix is particularly expert in developing software which delivers a high-quality user experience across all devices – desktop, tablet, and mobile.
Our group focus on common bacterial infections of poultry and hatching eggs. Bacteria present in any production system such as E.coli and Gram positive cocci accounts for mortality in all types of poultry flocks. However, in intensified production systems these types of infections may be responsible for the majority of infections. Our component seeks to describe the mechanisms of transmission of these microorganisms throughout the production pyramid and to investigate the role of the hatching egg as carrier of the bacteria.
Another component will investigate the influence of different factors on leg health in broilers, including early physical activity in particular. Experiments have shown that it is possible to control activity in broiler chickens via dynamics in the light and feeding environments, and that a moderate level of physical activity in the first three weeks of life could improve bone mineral density in broiler chickens at six weeks of age. Also, factors of importance for bone quality of layer chickens will be addressed. The role of production system in relation to prevalence/severity of leg disorders and effects on productivity will be investigated.
The Unit of Porcine Health Management is internationally renowned for research on different issues related to pig medicine and epidemiology. The research group focusses on diseases that are important from an economic, public health and/or animal welfare viewpoint. The Veterinary Epidemiology research group focusses on quantitative epidemiology and control of zoonoses.
Ghent University is leader of the ‘Risk Factors’ PROHEALTH project. The goal of this project is to improve the understanding of the multifactorial aspects which contribute to the formation of production diseases. First, existing datasets containing information on health, welfare and performance in pig and poultry enterprises will be analyzed. This will allow us to study short and long-term evolutions of these parameters, and to assess possible associations or interactions between different health, welfare and production data within herds.
Second, online scoring tools have been developed in order to score biosecurity and management practices in an objective and standardised way across Europe. The questionnaires were developed combining previous Ghent university experiences and PROHEALTH partners insights. Within the scope of the project, the online tools will be used in different EU countries to score management and biosecurity, and to assess risk factors for production diseases in pig and poultry farms.
The ‘Microbiology and Immunology’ project will provide ‘state of the art’ genomic mapping of pigs and poultry in intensive farming systems. The project will study changes in the intestinal biota, immune status and whole genome of animals, in different farming environments and with different disease status, from many sites across the European Union. This project consists of 3 partners:
(1) Professor Ivan Rychlik and his team (Veterinary Research Institute, Czech Republic) will analyse changes in the intestinal microbiota of pigs and chickens in different farming environments, using Next generation sequencing. This will compare variation within bacterial RNA sequences, which will determine changes in species dynamics.
(2) Dr Philippe Velge’s team at INRA (France) will utilise high through-put PCR to examine changes in expression of 90 pig and chicken immune genes. Samples from INRA will also be sent to University of Nottingham for genomic analysis.
(3) Dr Neil Foster’s team (University of Nottingham) will use DNA microarray analysis to measure the expression of 45,000 genes within pig and chicken tissues. Pathway analysis will then be used to determine the interaction of these genes. It is envisaged that the milestone achieved within this PROHEALTH project may lead to novel diagnostic biomarkers of production disease in pigs and chickens.
For PROHEALTH, the University of Reading (UREAD) is represented by the Centre for Agricultural Strategy (CAS). CAS was established in 1975 to identify important issues in food and agriculture and to ensure they are subjected to informed debate. Its staff have particular expertise in farmer and consumer behaviour.
In PROHEALTH, UREAD will research both the farm economics of, and consumer attitudes to, improvements in controlling production diseases in pigs and poultry. First, they will characterise the socio-economic impacts of existing pathologies on costs and efficiency on pig and poultry production on farm before identifying key issues and future possibilities for improving this situation.
Having chosen a series of proposed interventions for improving animal health, their financial consequences will be estimated through the use of bio-economic modelling. Then consumers will be consulted about their views on the proposed interventions in terms of ethics and efficacy as well as cost. Finally, UREAD will take part in a whole food chain assessment of the impacts of the proposed interventions.
Vedanko is a group of 9 veterinarians specialized in pig veterinary medicine. We do veterinary consultancy and provide veterinary services to pig farmers all over Belgium. We are also responsible for the health of all the pigs in group Danis, Belgium. We joined PROHEALTH because we strongly believe that we can learn more from continuously monitoring multiple environmental parameters in the barns and from there on try to link them with pig health and animal welfare.
Our main role is providing the PROHEALTH group with barns, through our contacts, to do the monitoring of these parameters and secondly we also visit these barns on a regular basis to check on the health of the pigs. We also have an app to check the monitoring system anytime, anywhere. All of this should help us better understand which environmental factors can influence pig health and animal welfare. If we can find better monitoring systems this could help us avoid illness in the pigs and lead to even better and healthier animals in the barns and it can also help decreasing the use of antibiotics.
PROHEALTH will also try to find genetic backrounds for certain diseases and disease mechanisms with advanced genetic research. Vedanko will help provide the samples to do this research on.
Role of partner VRI will be to analyse composition of gut microbiota of poultry and pigs. The samples will be collected either from experimental animals kept under different zoohygienic conditions, or from animals in commercial production but displaying clearly different performance. This will be used to address interactions between health status and growth performance on one side, and composition of gut microbiota on the other side. Composition of gut microbiota will be performed by culture independent protocols based on sequencing of V3/V4 variable regions of 16S rRNA genes.
In addition, should the experimental design allow, small pieces of intestinal tract tissue will be collected and analyse by protein mass spectrometry. Comparison of microbiota composition and host responses will allow for the characterisation of the interaction between microbiota and host, and selection of bacterial species with positive influences on host immune system.
Our company is based on the island of Cyprus and produces vitamin and mineral premixes, macropremixes, water soluble vitamin preparations and trades in various nutritional products for livestock feed. Our company also distributes the Zoetis range in Cyprus. Our on-site state of the art analytical laboratory provides a service to the quality control department of the company as well as to our customers. We also provide farm management services, veterinary as well as husbandry advisory services to farmers across the island and abroad.
We are taking part in the PROHEALTH research programme by collecting past and current farm data in Cyprus. Sample collection is also one of our tasks as well as conducting field trials in poultry and pig farms across Cyprus.
Our involvement is in the ‘Risk Factors’, ‘Neonatal Survival’. ‘Environment’, ‘Microbiology and Immunology’ and ‘Reduction Strategies’ PROHEALTH projects. We will also collect some farm data from Greece.
Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW) is a modern agricultural university, with research and educational cooperation with over 200 foreign universities from 45 countries in the world. The University has 13 faculties that offer a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. The Division of Avian Diseases at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has a strong tradition in conducting didactic classes and scientific research. Szeleszczuk’s Division of Avian Diseases conducts research to improve poultry production/performance and veterinary practice in field.
Zoetis (zô-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2014, the company generated annual revenue of $4.8 billion. With approximately 10,000 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2015, Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in 120 countries. For the last ten years, Zoetis has been active in supporting both internal and external research in different livestock species and support the farming and education
Zoetis are leaders of the ‘Communication’ project within PROHEALTH, and will also be participating in the ‘Socio-Economics’ project. The PROHEALTH team will be led by Dr Theo Kanellos, who is the Director in Global Alliances, with over twenty years’ experience of research within academic, governmental and industrial organisations, developing collaborations with external research groups and organisations. Theo is a member of several national and international animal health committees and is involved with two other FP7 projects.