Academic Partners

CIEL: Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock

CIEL is a membership organisation, bringing together leading UK based academic institutions and industry partners who provide strategic direction, projects for development and commercialisation of the research we carry out.


Click on the names below for detail

Aberystwyth University

Small Ruminant Platform: SHEEP and environment

Addressing a UK-wide lack of capacity to undertake detailed metabolic studies in pre-ruminants, leading to a greater understanding of the fundamental science needed for precision farming systems. Outcomes will include: More efficient use of feed; fine-tuning genetics so animals produce meat as efficiently as possible with least environmental impact; and informing research into “bioactive compounds” – extranutritional constituents of interest in manipulating metabolism and preventative health treatments.

Research centre: PIGS

Instrumented capacity for sows (extra 150 sows and associated housing) including extra ‘state of the art’ finishing accommodation with varied capability and specialised surgery and dissection facilities

Research centre: DAIRY

High output grassland based dairy Research Centre ((based on 340 dairy cows plus youngstock from birth to complement and build on AFBI’s existing grassland based research facilities which includes: 40 plus experimental silage bunkers; 2 large and 6 small animal metabolsim chambers, digestibility and degradability unit; nutrition laboratory; feed mill; aerobic digester; forage harvesting/growing/planting equipment; grazing and silage platform)

BEEF lead for CIEL:

High output grassland based beef Research Centre (based on dairy and suckler origin livestock from birth to complement and build on AFBI’s existing grassland based research facilities. For example, 40 plus experimental silage bunkers; 2 large and 6 small animal metabolsim chambers, digestibility and degradability unit; nutrition laboratory; feed mill; aerobic digester; forage harvesting/growing/planting equipment; grazing and silage platform) –  linkage  between the dairy and beef centres on one site with total control provides a unique ability within CIEL

Research centre: SHEEP

Only facility in the UK with the ability to record the individual intake potential of group housed breeding ewes or fattening lambs.  Coupled with the exisiting equipment/facilities at AFBI this facility will allow for detailed nutritional and behaviour studies and investigation of genomic markers of feed efficiency.  Often sheep are used as models for larger ruminants therefore this investment coupled with the existing six small animal metabolism chambers and digestibility facilities provides an excellent and holistic facility for R&D and enable cost effective nutritional, health and genetic research to be conducted.
Duchy College

Research centre: DAIRY

New future farm dairy facility at Duchy is a resource for research, specifically utilising the skill sets within North Wyke in nutrient flow, emissions and management of manures.
Harper Adams University

Research centre: BEEF

Facility accommodating 200 cattle with 160 cattle in 16 pens (10 cattle per pen) for low cost group housed research work plus 40 cattle group penned with access to individual feeders. The building will have leading edge technology that delivers high quality healthy rearing facilities using environmentally friendly innovations.
Newcastle University

Centre for Digital Innovation Applied to Livestock (C-DIAL)

Research and Demonstration facility for novel technologies associated with Digital Innovation.


Gait Analysis Research


Feed Mix & Delivery System
Queens University Belfast

Research centre: FOOD SAFETY

Extensive analytical capabilities to undertake trace analysis in foods and feeds. The Advanced ASSET Centre witin the Institute for Global Food Security houses the suite of physio-analytical equipment. The technology platforms will be extended to include A Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer  (GC-MSMS/Tof); a nano-UPLC system; and a range of bench mounted and handheld spectroscopic devices. Ballmills (2 of) will be required to undertake extensive sample prep.
Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)


The Roslin Institute at The University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus will host CIEL’s Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility (LARIF) and CIEL’s Informatics Hub.
LARIF will be a unique and world-leading facility that will provide a quantum leap in infrastructure available to the animal sciences innovation pipeline in the UK. Phase 1 of LARIF will include specialised suites and computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment that will enable studies on large animal metabolism and infectious disease.
The facility will also allow researchers to phenotype livestock species for desirable traits and will be linked to Edinburgh’s Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI) hub.
Breeding companies will be able to use LARIF for the production of transgenic and gene-edited animals, and the development and application of novel reproductive technologies for sheep, pigs and cattle.
The new facility will also support the generation of surgical animal models to assess vaccine and adjuvant efficacy and users will be able to benefit from the expertise at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies also located on the Easter Bush Campus
LARIF will be equipped to sample digesta contents in pigs, sheep and calves via ileal valve cannulation and evaluate the microbiome.
The facility will also contain controlled environment rooms for poultry and large animals that can be used for isolation level CAT2 infectious disease and highly-monitored welfare and behaviour studies.
Nutrition companies will be able to test the nutritional impacts on infectious disease susceptibility and genetic interactions with feed.
The Roslin Institute will host CIEL’s Informatics Hub, which will support livestock genomics and informatics, and provide training and support to individual breeders, farmers, recording and breeding companies in their delivery of genomic improvement.
The Hub will deliver genomic evaluations of all livestock species to companies in a timely and cost effective manner, using failsafe and efficient software systems. The Hub will develop web based tools for handling, storing and exploiting the generated data. Outputs will feed into training and knowledge exchange tools built and operated both by EGENES and AHDB.
CIEL’s industry partners at Easter Bush Campus will have access on site to leasable office and laboratory space in the new 3800m2 Roslin Innovation Centre that is adjacent to The Roslin Institute building.
Rothamsted Research

SHEEP lead for CIEL:

Development of a sheep facility which will allow the flock to be split along the lines of the grazing treatments as for beef to compare the three systems at housing including group intake assessment and nutrition of the pregnant ewe; Ability to provide separate facilities for sheep as part of nutrient management of the Farm platform. This will allow manure from the new sheep facility to be correctly allocated to the farm platform treatment so the nutrients during housing can be included in the LCA and returned to the farmlet.
SRUC, Scotland's Rural College

POULTRY lead for CIEL:

Largest capacity research facilities of their type in the UK – two controlled environment clear span buildings (8,000 birds/house) for whole house, floor pens and cage use as required – used for nutrition, challenge, behaviour type studies. Penned Brooding House: 3000 birds: Controlled environment multiple room facility for smaller scale nutrition, challenge, behaviour type studies. Enriched Cage House: 3500 birds: Controlled environment enriched cage laying hen facility for feed and challenge studies (eg red mite).

Hatchery: 16800 eggs: Largest capacity research facility of its type in the UK, enabling commercially relevant incubation studies (eg epigenetic, in ovo feeding [Inovoject-type technology] to be conducted

Free range unit: 480 birds: Largest capacity research facility of its type in the UK, enabling properly replicated health, nutrition, etc experiments to be conducted on free-range genotypes

Carcass Evaluation Unit (CEU): 2000/h: Poultry slaughter and portioning facility for use in carcass trait, meat quality, slaughter type studies

Research centre: PIGS

Refurbishment of existing 100 sow high welfare/health status farrow to finish unit to provide state of art facility for behaviour and welfare research and KE

Research centre: BEEF

Individual intake facility for growing/finishing beef cattle – providing capacity to evaluate new lifetime management strategies for beef production, as well as strategic research arising from linkage with the Precision Agriculture (Agri-EPI) Centre.

Research centre: SHEEP

Mobile CT scanning unit – will facilitate implementation of this technology in national sheep breeding programmes – providing a step change in breeding for quality within UK sheep breeds. The advanced phenotyping capability will be linked to genomic evaluations to advance the rate at which benefits are delivered for commercial animals.

Research centre: GENETICS

E-Genes. A complete genomic evaluation and delivery system that can deliver genomic evaluations to all livestock species in a commercial environment. This includes appropriate hardware and software systems to process sequence data into genomic data suitable for processing, web based tools for exploitation and delivery, storage and handling processes suitable to bridge the gap between research and commercial exploitation
University of Bristol

Research centre: POULTRY

The University of Bristol hosts a research group with internationally-recognised expertise in poultry behaviour, health and welfare and a track record of working collaboratively with industry.

Bristol are creating a bespoke 326m2 unit with experimental hatchery facilities (two rooms, to enable different hatching treatments, including light, sound, odour) and an 8-room modular rearing/laying facility to enable experimental replication, and procedure rooms as necessary.

Each of the 8 x 20m2 animal rooms will be capable of housing up to 180 hens or 300 broilers in floor or single-tier designs,  or up to 300 adult hens in multi-tier. The rooms will be designed with modular components to permit experiments on house layout and design at rear and at lay. Each room will be equipped with the infra-structure to assess different types of lighting, and to permit recording of food and water delivery and egg production on a room by room basis.

The rooms will be equipped with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment to assess bird activity and movement – a critical step in understanding behaviour and interactions with fixtures within a complex environment. In essence, individual birds living within groups can be followed over their entire lifespan.

The ability to track and locate birds, fit them with 2-sensor 3D accelerometers to measure physical impact, and assess many aspects of physiological stress non-invasively and remotely, provides a basis for many different strands of cutting-edge research.  The facility will particularly lend itself to early-stage pilot studies ahead of commercial trials.
University of Leeds

PIG lead for CIEL:

Expansion to give 300 additional indoor sows places, plus progeny to slaughter in state of the art accommodation with individual intake recording, flexi-penning and farrowing (including free farrowing) facilities. Additional 30 farrowing paddocks and 6 dry sow paddocks with automated sow feeding. Sensor technology for animal performance, welfare, environment and feed quality evaluation.
University of Nottingham

DAIRY lead for CIEL:

Dairy Health and Welfare Unit: a state of the art, totally flexible unit, to conduct research on interactions between environment-genotype-animal physiology-welfare (capacity 100 cows), almost unlimited adaption of the housed environment to enable the evaluation and development of precision technologies and optimum housing design to maximise animal health, welfare, comfort, productively and labour efficiency. CIEL Dairy will have the ability to move and rearrange floors, bedding, loafing and penning facilities.

Dairy Nutritional Research Unit: A cutting edge nutritional research facility for 100 high yielding milking cows. Cows will be individually fed with continuous recording of feed intake, milk yield, live weight, activity and rumination, linked to detailed measurements of cow metabolism and physiology.

Dairy Young Stock Unit: facilities for research on nutrition, health and husbandry of dairy heifers.

An integrated containment facility (cat 2) for lactating cattle; to conduct research into host pathogen interactions, mammary gland biology,  vaccine  /  therapeutic  development  and other milking and mastitis related issues.