CIEL | Impact 

Case Studies | Projects | Grand Challenges | Updates

The impact of the work enabled by CIEL is felt throughout the UK food production supply chain and around the world.

Together, the CIEL network of collaborative expertise is finding new solutions to the grand challenges for livestock production, from enhancing animal health and welfare to tackling antimicrobial resistance and helping livestock farming reach its Net Zero commitments.

It’s about finding new ways to feed an ever-growing population; using less resources whilst maximising productivity and minimising environmental impact; supporting the production of affordable, safe, nutritious, high quality food and helping those who produce food to so profitably and sustainably.

Explore our case studies and a range of projects we are currently involved in, together with just some of the research and innovation CIEL has supported.

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    Current Projects

    Improving grassland management efficiency is a key driver of profitability on beef, sheep and dairy farms across the UK, with each additional 1 tonne DM utilised per hectare worth £334 and £204 per annum to dairy and beef farms, respectively.

    To assist farmers in making the most of this valuable feedstuff, CIEL is working alongside researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Rothamsted Research, supported by the three GB levy bodies AHDB, HCC and QMS and industry partners to deliver the pasture benchmarking initiative GrassCheckGB.

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    Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been identified as a major public health threat. Developing antimicrobial alternatives is a hugely important challenge and CIEL is involved in a global project focusing on this issue in the poultry sector.

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    Developing a new diagnostic solution for the dairy industry in a bid to improve milk yields, disease surveillance and product assurance, CIEL is teaming up with livestock health and welfare specialists RAFT Solutions Ltd.

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    Enabling beef farmers to increase production efficiency, reduce the feed cost and improve the environmental impact of beef production, this five year collaborative project brings together industry, academic and commercial players across the beef industry to deliver a new nutritional model.

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    Enabling dairy farmers to improve the productivity, sustainability and efficiency of their business, EPIHERD uses epigenomics and sophisticated data analysis to help farmers tailor their farming system to suit the genetic make-up of their herd.

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    Research Case Studies

    Addressing the Grand Challenges of UK livestock farming and food production supply chain

    Industry-led research driving innovation within the livestock supply chain

    CIEL has supported a wave of short, high impact industry match-funded projects led by its Members targeting several priority areas for the livestock industry. The findings are designed to inform and catalyse future research and development which will lead to the development of new processes, products and services to address these identified sector challenges.

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    Pen-side broiler testing necrotic enteritis

    Necrotic enteritis is the number one cause of antibiotic prescriptions for broiler chickens in the UK. Globally the disease costs the poultry industry an estimated $6 billion.

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    ‘Wonder technology’ that could help fight AMR

    Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to human and animal health today. Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

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    Improving the carbon footprint of Sheep Farming

    Individual feed conversion trials with Exlana sheep,  sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers and using research capability co-funded by CIEL at the North Wyke Farm Platform, aim to help identify sheep genetics for feed efficiency and improve the long-term sustainability of meat production from forage.

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    Insect farming to support sustainable poultry production

    The £1 million state-of-the art Bristol Poultry Research Farm, developed by CIEL and the University of Bristol, is supporting an Innovate UK-funded project to examine the feasibility of on-farm production of insect larvae from food waste, to be then used as a feed component for poultry. The study will also assess nutritional, health and welfare outcomes in chickens reared on this sustainable feed type.

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    PigSustain: Assessing the resilience of the UK pig industry

    The PigSustain project is using a multi-disciplinary, integrated systems approach to model and assess the resilience of the UK pig industry to ensure any future intensification is balanced with improved animal health & welfare. An advanced surveillance system developed as part of the project is one of the many technological features to be trialled within the National Pig Centre, developed by CIEL in partnership with the University of Leeds. The facility enables round the clock monitoring of pig behaviour and welfare at all stages of production.

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    ClimatePig: Smart systems approaches for climate resilient livestock production

    Researchers at the University of Leeds are integrating local weather information and precision farming technology to improve our understanding of adaptation options for extreme weather events, with a view to developing a climate-smart, resilient and sustainable outdoor production system. Research capability within the CIEL-supported National Pig Centre that enables tracking and monitoring of individual animals is central to the project.

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    Reducing the environmental impact of protecting livestock against pests

    CIEL supported research capability at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke Farm Platform is helping to develop an innovative approach to managing parasites in ruminant livestock. Rothamsted Research is teaming up with Devon-based firm Denis Brinicombe Group for the project which they hope will also have a positive impact upon the environment with regard to ruminant production efficiency.

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    Battling Bovine Tuberculosis

    Researchers at the world-renowned University of Edinburgh Roslin Institute have studied immune responses to the BCG vaccine to understand the mechanisms of protective immunity. This knowledge can be used for further vaccine design and implementation. Tools developed by the Roslin team allow for the assessment of early vaccine-induced responses and will provide understanding as to why vaccines are (or are not) effective.

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    Field trial of novel vaccine for porcine ileitis

    Product trials to test and compare treatments of a novel vaccine for ileitis are being carried out within the National Pig Centre which has been co-developed between CIEL and the University of Leeds. Start-of-the-art instrumentation enables automated monitoring of each animal’s feed intake and weight as part of the vaccine studies so daily growth measurements can be captured in real-time. Remote data collection also minimises stress on the animals, delivering results without comprising welfare.

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    Engineering PRRS Resistant Pigs

    Utilising their expertise in gene editing techniques, the research group based at the University of Edinburgh Roslin Institute have produced pigs that are resistant to the PRRS virus. Research capability at the Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility (LARIF), developed by CIEL and the University of Edinburgh, plays a key role in such studies. Genetically edited embryos can be implanted into animals and farm staff work with the researchers to bring the animals to term in the specialist holding facilities before delivering the genetically modified offspring. This allows scientists to build up an understanding of PRRS at every level; from the molecules involved to the symptoms of the animals as a whole.

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    Leading the charge in the fight against Bovine TB

    Combatting Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) is a national priority, manifested by the £100 million spent annually on disease surveillance, monitoring and non-genetic control. If accuracies of genomic predictions were improved, genetic improvement could contribute to a long-term reduction of this figure by reducing both infected and infectious animals on farm.

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    Understanding how Salmonella bacteria colonises farm animals and causes disease

    Work by researchers at the University of Edinburgh Roslin Institute has provided valuable insights into how Salmonella colonises the intestines of farm animals and produces disease. Cattle, pigs and chickens can be inoculated with Salmonella, or other Hazard Category 2 pathogens, within the CIEL-supported Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility. This includes those that have been genetically modified. The surgical models and genetic approaches used by the Roslin team greatly reduce the number animals needed to study bacterial pathogenesis.

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    Putting the best meat on the bones for UK beef & lamb

    CIEL was awarded a £100k grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to investigate how precision technology could be used to help address variability in carcase yield to improve the efficiency of processing and help farmers target premium grades.

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    Low birthweight pigs within pig production

    CIEL-supported research capability has been used to help determine the significance of low birthweight pigs on average herd productivity & profitability and to develop & test targeted intervention strategies to reduce animal mortality and maximise performance.

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    Determining risk to dairy-sourced bull calves as they enter the beef rearing unit

    The transfer of dairy bred bull calves to dedicated rearing units is becoming an increasingly used model for beef production. This practice has a potential high-risk period for calf health. A CIEL-supported project involving integrated calf company Buitelaar Productions UK Ltd and the University of Nottingham centred on developing a computer algorithm to gain a better understanding of the potential risks for calves entering the rearing farm.

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    Developing next generation mastitis testing

    Researchers from the University of Edinburgh Roslin Institute are producing gene expression data for mastitis causing pathogens and identifying the most prevalent causes of mastitis in the UK and worldwide. This data will be used by veterinary diagnostics company Biotangents to develop a new diagnostic test for mastitis on the global market. The project was one of a wave of industry match-funded projects supported by CIEL in 2020 to drive innovation within the livestock supply chain and address identified sector challenges.

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    Providing the space to enhance the health, welfare and productivity of dairy cattle

    In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Nottingham are seeking to ascertain what difference space makes to cow health, welfare, and productivity, as well as farm economics and emissions. The research is being carried out within the Centre for Dairy Science Innovation (CDSI),  developed by the University in partnership with CIEL.

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    Machine learning to improve the diagnosis of mastitis infections in cows

    A study by the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham has found that machine learning has the potential to enhance and improve a vet’s ability to accurately diagnose herd mastitis origin and reduce mastitis levels on dairy farms.

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    Optihouse: How clean is your house?

    Optihouse is a large-scale calf housing project aiming to increase the efficiency of feed and labour within calf rearing enterprises by optimising the rearing environment and calf management. The project is utilising CIEL-supported research capability which has been co-developed with AFBI.

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    Automated calf monitoring

    Co-funded by CIEL, this innovative research project into the behaviour and performance of dairy calves has been instigated by the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in partnership with IceRobotics Ltd, a world-leading developer and provider of data collection and analysis products.

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    The Beef Toolkit

    With Brexit, changing market dynamics and new a policy environment looming, Britain’s beef farmers need to continue improving their efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. Industry data indicates that there exists large variability in profitability and carcase & growth outcomes from beef herds in the UK, with around 44% of prime beef failing to meet ideal market specifications

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    Net Zero Challenge

    The Committee on Climate Change has recommended a 64% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture and land-use sector to meet a 2050 net zero carbon target in the UK.

    This is an opportunity to tackle climate change while building systems that will help to deliver a sustainable farm and food future for our nation.

    Who are our Members?

    Our members are drawn from all areas of livestock food production supply chain, including researchers, scientists, livestock producers and farmers, retailers, packaging companies, nutrition and feed suppliers, technology and innovation SMEs, wholesalers, health, welfare and interest groups.