Animal Health & Welfare

Achieving a balance between increasing production, ensuring food security, reducing climate emissions, protecting the ecosystem and promoting better animal health and welfare for livestock is key to meeting the challenge of attaining sustainable food production. Innovative research in livestock science is needed to address the impact of changes in our climate, and in how our livestock are managed, on animal health and welfare. BioSS contributes to these aims by collaborating with researchers in order to optimise their use of quantitative methods on projects that address these issues. The role of our consultants is to collaborate with vets, biologists and agricultural scientists in carrying out application-driven research, or to provide advice in promoting better experimental and survey design and delivery of appropriate and effective quantitative analyses.

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sheep gathered around feed in a snowy field

Our collaborations with scientists working on topics relevant to livestock-based agricultural systems vary from small scale laboratory studies to on-farm research studies as well as projects relating to wider livestock farming systems, particularly in Scotland. Work in animal health includes quantitative methods relating to vaccine and diagnostic test development, intervention studies, epidemiological studies, and health measurement methods. Work in animal welfare includes quantitative methods relating to measurement methods development, both physiological and behavioural, and effects of livestock management on behaviour. Another area of interest is precision livestock farming/SMART farming particularly where large data streams are generated when monitoring animals. We also work on quantitative methods relating to livestock nutrition and emissions which are important areas of research for sustainable livestock farming. For examples of work in this area please see the case studies below.

Work in this area is funded by RESAS and other sources such as Defra, BBSRC or commercial companies. Several BioSS staff are part funded by the Scottish Government-funded Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks (EPIC).

Sarah is shown smiling against a brown background

Sarah Brocklehurst is Application Lead for Animal Sciences

Contributors to the animal health and welfare application area

  • Sarah Brocklehurst Application Lead responsible for: Animal & Livestock Sciences, Animal Health and Welfare, SRUC Statistical Consultancy and SRUC AEC. 
  • Stephen Catterall Mathematical Modeller, participant in EPIC.
  • Rachael Duncan Statistical Consultant working mainly with Moredun Research Institute scientists. 
  • David Ewing Senior Statistical Consultant responsible for Moredun Research Institute including AWERB, participant in EPIC. 
  • Giles Innocent Senior Researcher/Statistician in Animal Health, Institutional Lead for BioSS work in EPIC.
  • Martin Knight  Large scale modeller for animal disease.
  • Iain McKendrick BioSS Head of Consultancy and EPIC Director of Quantitative Innovation and Operations.