All good things come to an end, but most good things continue to impact for a long time after!

As readers of this website will know PROHEALTH ‘Sustainable intensive pig and poultry production’ came to an end in January 2019. Its formal Final Report to the EU became available in April 2019 and is extensive in its detail, due to the length of the project and its findings; it is also publically available. In addition to this, we have documented in this website the continuing impact of PROHEALTH to a variety of Stakeholders. This impact has resulted in the project being nominated for a Horizon Impact Award.

As is the nature of all scientific projects, the scientific outputs of PROHEALTH have continued to be published during the last two years, after the project end. Here we would like to report on the scientific outcomes that have been published and continue to be published since then.

WP1 concluded its identification of risk and protective factors for health, welfare and reproductive performance in pig and poultry systems across the EU; several countries provided data for this activity, so that the conclusion drawn are of relevance across the EU and beyond. The associations between farm characteristics and biosecurity hotspots in pig and poultry farms were also investigated. For example, poor biosecurity was associated with the supply of fed, water and working lines in these farms. The outcomes of this WP are of particular and immediate relevance to Stakeholders whose farms are challenged by current disease outbreaks.

WP2 continued to report on the role of the role of genetic and environmental factors on neonatal survival and in exerting longer-term developmental influences on health of pigs and poultry. One of its newly reported outcomes related to the effects of positive handling of sows on litter performance and neonatal survival of piglets. Some very simple management procedures on the sows seem to be associated with significant consequences.

WP3 dealt with the effects of genetic selection for productive traits on susceptibility to production diseases and identify strategies to prevent these. The recently published outcomes dealt with a re-evaluation of some of the mineral and vitamin requirements of fast growing broiler genotypes, especially when they are exposed to suboptimal environments. Some of these re-evaluations, such as of the vitamin D requirements, are particularly relevant as their estimates are based on data that does not relate to birds that have resulted from the fast pace of genetic progress achieved.

WP4 advanced the theme of capturing environmental variation and its relation to the expression of production diseases over time. The investigation produced novel protocols for capturing this environmental variation through novel technologies, such as sensors, and for transmitting, storing and utilising the captured information. This requires the development of new paradigms for the generation and use of such data are increasing and relates to the challenge of managing and utilising Big Data. Since the conclusion of PROHEALTH, the EU has specifically funded projects that deal with this challenge and the fast changing landscape associated with it.

WP5 characterized microbiological and immunological changes and identify pathological changes at the molecular level which took place during production diseases. The recent findings of PROHEALTH relate in particular to the identification of molecular immunological and pathological markers associated with the challenge of coccidiosis in broilers. Such novel diagnostic markers for the detection of necrotic enteritis and coccidiosis in poultry are under patent application and their commercialisation is being negotiated.

WP7 aimed at synthesising the project’s findings by identifying economically viable and socially acceptable control strategies aimed at controlling the pathologies considered in the previous WPs. The recently published outcomes make significant contributions by showing how such interventions and improvements in pig and poultry health and welfare would benefit the whole chain, and should provide new (business) opportunities to a variety of food chain actors, ranging from farmers, to slaughterhouses and food sector companies.

Finally, a direct scientific outcome of the PROHEALTH project is a new book entitled ‘Advancements and Technologies in Pig and Poultry Bacterial Disease Control’ to be published very soon by Elsevier and includes authors from the project and is edited by project members. The book covers only one component of the findings of PROHEALTH, which nevertheless is expected to make a significant contribution in the field. 

Publications from PROHEALTH since the project conclusion


CHANTZIARAS, I., DEWULF, J., van LIMBERGEN, T., KLINKENBERG, M., PALZERS, A., PINEIRO, C., AARESTRUP MOUSTSEN, V., NIEMI, J., KYRIAZAKIS, I. and MAES, D. (2018). Factors associated with specific health, welfare and reproductive performance indicators in pig herds from five EU countries. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 159: 106-114.

CHANTZIARAS, I., DEWULF, J., van LIMBERGEN, T., STADEJECK, T., NIEMI, J., KYRIAZAKIS, I. and MAES, D. (2020). Biosecurity levels of pig fattening farms from four EU countries and links with the farm characteristics. Livestock Science 237: 104037.

van LIMBERGEN, T.A.A., SARRAZIN, S., CHANTZIARAS, I., DEWULF, J., DUCATELLE, R., KYRIAZAKIS, I., McMULLIN, P., MENDEZ, J., NIEMI, J.K., PAPASOLOMONTOS, S., SZELESZCZUK, P., van ERUM, J. and MAES, D. (2020). Risk factors for poor health and performance in European broiler production systems. Veterinary Research 16: 287. 

CHANTZIARAS, I., de MEYER, D., VRIELINCK, L., van LIMBERGEN, T., PINEIRO, C., DEWULF, J., KYRIAZAKIS, I. and MAES, D. (2020). Environment-, health-, performance- and welfare-related parameters in pig barns with natural and mechanical ventilation.  Preventive Veterinary Medicine 183: 105150.


MATHESON, S.M., WALLING, G.A. and EDWARDS, S.A. (2018). Genetic selection against intrauterine growth retardation in piglets: A problem at the piglet level with a solution at a sow level. Genetics, Selection, Evolution 50: 46.

De MEYER, D., AMALRAJ, A, et al and MAES, D. (2020). Short Communication: Effect of positive handling of sows on litter performance and pre-weaning piglet mortality. Animal 14: 1733-1739.

POULSEN, L.L., KUDIRKIENE, E, et al and THIFNER, I. (2020). Whole genome sequence comparison of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli from acute and chronic salpingitis of egg laying hens. BMC Veterinary Research 16: 148.


SAKKAS, P., SMITH, S., HILL, T.R and KYRIAZAKIS, I. (2019). A reassessment of the vitamin D requirements of modern broiler genotypes. Poultry Science 98: 330-340.

STAVRAKAKIS, S., LOISEL, F., SAKKAS, P., LE FLOC’H, N., KYRIAZAKIS, I., STEWART, G. and MONTAGNE, L. (2019). A systematic literature mapping and meta-analysis of animal-based traits as indicators of production diseases in pigs. Animal 13: 1508-1518.

OIKEH, I., SAKKAS, P., TAYLOR, J., GIANNENAS, I., BLAKE, D.  and KYRIAZAKIS, I. (2019). Effects of reduced growth rate via diet dilution on bone mineralization, performance and carcass yield of coccidia-infected broilers. Poultry Science 98: 5477–5487.

OIKEH, I., SAKKAS, P., BLAKE, D.  and KYRIAZAKIS, I. (2019). Interactions between dietary Calcium and Phosphorous level, and vitamin D source on bone mineralization, performance and intestinal morphology of coccidia infected broilers. Poultry Science 98: 5679–5690.

SAKKAS, P., OIKEH, I., BLAKE, D., SMITH, S. and KYRIAZAKIS, I. (2019). Dietary vitamin D improves performance and bone mineralisation, but increases parasite replication and compromises gut health in Eimeria infected broilers. British Journal of Nutrition 122: 676-688.


PINEIRO, C., MORALES, J. et al and KOKETSU, Y. (2019). Big (pig) data and the internet of the swine things: A new paradigm in the industry. Animal Frontiers 9: 6-15.


GILES, T., SAKKAS, P., BELKHIRI, A., BARROW, P. KYRIAZAKIS, I. and FOSTER, N. (2019). Differential immune response to Eimeria maxima infection in fast and slow growing broiler genotypes. Parasite Immunology 41: e12660.

GILES, T., VAN LIMBERGEN, T., SAKKAS, P., BELKHIRI, A., MAES, D., KYRIAZAKIS, I., MENDEZ, J., BARROW, P. and FOSTER, N. (2019). Differential gene responses to coccidiosis in modern fast growing and slow growing broiler genotypes. Veterinary Parasitology 268: 1-8.

GILES, T., VAN LIMBERGEN, T., SAKKAS, P., QUINN, L., BELKHIRI, A., MAES, D., KYRIAZAKIS, I., BARROW, P. and FOSTER, N. (2020). Diagnosis of sub-clinical coccidiosis in fast growing broiler chickens by MicroRNA profiling. Genomics 112: 3218-3225.


NIEMI, J., BENNETT, R., et al and TANTER, R. (2020). A value chain analysis of interventions to control production diseases in the intensive pig production sector. PLoS ONE 15: e0231338.

STUGAR, A.H., CHANTZIARAS, I. et al. and NIEMI, J.K. (2020). High biosecurity and welfare standards in fattening pig farms are associated with reduced antimicrobial use. Animal 14: 2178-2186.

JONES, P.J., NIEMI, J. et al and BENNETT, R.M. (2019). A review of the financial impact of production diseases in poultry production systems, Animal Production Science 59: 1585-1597.             

CLARK, B. PANZONE, L.A. et al and FREWER, L.J. (2019). Consumer attitudes towards production diseases in intensive production systems. PLoS ONE 14: e0210432