Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How livestock farming benefits from a scientific approach

Scientific research and how to apply it to benefit industry has always been of vital importance and the livestock sector is no exception.

Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Chief Executive Officer Jane King reiterated this recently at the organisation’s annual Livestock PhD Seminar.

The event provided the ideal platform to highlight the significant challenges facing the livestock industry and the importance of making science practical and applicable on farm, a key part of the AHDB’s work.

It focused on communicating science to farmers and saw 33 PhD students present their research to delegates. The research is part or fully funded by AHDB and is carried out across the three livestock sectors of Dairy, Pork and Beef & Lamb. Presentations on topics including lameness, mastitis, genetics and anthelmintic resistance were well received by attendees and talks were also given by industry representatives.

Delegates heard from AHDB Pork Chairman Meryl Ward about the vital job scientists have in adding value to the livestock sector, as well as the importance of them knowing the industry and working collaboratively with it.

The emergence of antibiotic resistance was brought into focus by Professor Mike Fielder, who discussed the current void in antibiotic discovery and the importance of better detection and analysis to improve treatment. For example, work is under way with AHDB to develop a pen-side test to detect salmonella in calves.

Concluding with an afternoon of workshops delivered by AHDB staff, covering grass and forage management, calf to calving and future challenges for the pig industry, the event highlighted the breadth of AHDB expertise in adding value to the industry. It also underlined the importance of succession planning to help the livestock sector continue to meet the challenges it currently faces and those that may appear in the future.

As Kim Matthews, Head of Research of Development at AHDB Beef & Lamb, put it, “It was great to see so many enthusiastic young scientists presenting some really interesting and important work.”