Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - PROHEALTH (Sustainable intensive pig and poultry production)

Project Context and Objectives:
Rising demand for animal products, an increasing global population as well as global competition have increased level and intensification of animal production. This trend comes at the price of increasing the incidence of production diseases (PD). PD can be defined as 'diseases which tend to persist in animal production systems and, typically, become more prevalent or severe, in proportion to the potential productivity of the system'. They compromise health and welfare, generating inefficiencies which negatively impact on profitability, environmental footprint, and product quality. They may also increase the need to treat the affected animals with antibiotics. The PROHEALTH project aims to develop an understanding of the multi-factorial dimension of animal pathologies linked to the intensification of production and to use this new knowledge to develop, evaluate and disseminate effective management and control strategies.
The PROHEALTH project will address each of the elements in the network of production disease causation. In particular, the specific objectives of the project are to:
• identify the risk factors for production diseases and establish associations between diseases;
• explore the role of genetic and environmental factors on neonatal survival and in exerting longer-term developmental influences on health;
• evaluate the effects of genetic selection for productive traits on susceptibility and identify strategies to mitigate these;
• determine the role of variation in farm environment on the temporal expression of production diseases;
• characterise the microbio-immunological changes and identify pathological changes at the molecular level which take place during production diseases in order to develop diagnostic tools;
• synthesise strategies to reduce the impact of production diseases on a farm and assess the efficacy of improvement strategies in reducing disease prevalence or severity; and
• identify economically viable and socially acceptable ways to control pathologies, with emphasis on animal welfare implications.

Project Results:
Overall the PROHEALTH project is well on track to achieve all its goals and objectives. At mid-term of the 5 year project, the first experiments have already been completed and dissemination of the obtained results is in full swing. At the same time a number of further experiments and analyses are ongoing or scheduled and final conclusions are yet to be drawn. More specifically, the following work was performed in the different work packages (WP):

WP1: The quantification of time-related effects and associations between different health, welfare and performance parameters was concluded. Web-based questionnaires for pigs, broiler and layer chickens were used to collect data on biosecurity, management and farm and batch/flick characteristics; their analysis is in progress.

WP2: The first experiment on the role of sow gestation housing system on piglet viability and immune status was completed. The investigations into the role of genetic and farrowing management on maternal competence and neonatal vitality were completed, and are in the process of being analysed. The work on the potential for adaptation of milk composition to optimise nurse sow fostering protocols during late lactation was completed and reported. An investigation on disinfection protocols on bacterial diversity of shells of hatching eggs was completed and reported, including recommendations.

WP3: The meta-analysis to identify the most relevant traits to describe animal responses during production diseases was completed and reported. The large experimental programme under this WP is progressing according to plan. This includes the investigations into the relationship between genotype and production diseases, and the development of strategies on how to reduce the susceptibility to leg disorders of pigs and poultry selected for high productive outputs. Tissue, blood and faecal samples from the above experimental programme were provided to WP5.

WP4: Daily reception and validation of data arising from a variety of environmental sensors received from a variety of farms has been accomplished. The experimental programme of determining the role of the microbial environment on the temporal expression of production diseases is progressing according to plan.

WP5: Identification of specific microbiota in pigs and chickens under different housing conditions and disease status has been progressing and in part reported. Micro-array analyses of samples from tissues of pigs and chickens under different housing conditions and disease status has been progressing and in part reported.

WP6: Initial proposals for on farm, large scale interventions for reduction of production diseases of pigs and poultry were developed.

WP7: The characterisation of the socio-economic impacts of production diseases, including impacts related to animal welfare, ethical considerations, and impacts on costs and efficiency of production on the farm has been completed and reported.
A stakeholder survey to identify key health issues and future possibilities in animal health was completed and reported.

Finally, great effort was made in WP8 to disseminate the results from PROHEALTH as widely as possible: Three editions of the electronic project newsletters were produced and distributed; the last edition is available in multiple European languages. A series of national stakeholder events has been initiated with the first one having been held in Poland. A large number of presentations at national and international conferences has been made, for example a PROHEALTH session was organised at the International Conference on Production Diseases (ICPD) held in the Netherlands. First peer-reviewed publications arising from the project have appeared in the international literature.

Potential Impact:
The PROHEALTH project will contribute to the understanding of the multifactorial dimension of animal pathologies linked to the intensification of production. It will help to provide effective control strategies to reduce the negative impact on animal health and welfare.

Dissemination activities will encompass all stakeholders in the food chain. PROHEALTH will deliver novel diagnostics for the propensity to develop production diseases and their occurrence, and multifactorial improvement strategies. Ultimately, the results of PROHEALTH will allow the production of better quality products in a welfare friendly manner and improve competitiveness and sustainability of EU pig and poultry systems.

List of Websites:

Reported by

United Kingdom
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top