Integrative Animal Science

Students viewing the cows in the feeding penWe are an internationally recognised centre of excellence in integrative animal science drawing on fundamental research and applying it to areas of societal, industrial and policy importance. Our research primarily involves farm livestock, but also companion animals and wildlife. We carry out research on the development and evaluation of livestock systems, based on high quality animal science and its interface with socio-economics, environmental impact, food safety and food quality.  We work closely with other research groups in on business management, food chain and consumer studies, food science, environmental science and organic agriculture.

Our research makes full use of the excellent animal resources on our two University Farms and comprehensive laboratory and taste panelling facilities on the main campus. It involves extensive collaboration with other national and international academic institutions, and with many industrial collaborators. We have welcomed visiting researchers and students from many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. We have a particular emphasis on integrative pig science, with projects on the housing, management, nutrition and welfare of breeding and growing pigs. We also carry out research on poultry, dairy and sheep production systems, with underpinning studies of nutrition, reproduction, health and welfare.

We have an international reputation for our research into improving animal health and welfare. This ranges from more fundamental work on understanding animal behaviour and behavioural problems, through development of practical on-farm monitoring and assessment methods to mechanistic studies of health and disease at the molecular level. Collaboration with social scientists within enables us to explore public opinion and market values relating to these complex issues.

An increasing focus of our research is the environmental impact of livestock systems. We examine in particular the consequences of changes such as modifications in nutrition and husbandry and alterations in breeding strategies to improve the efficiency of resource use. Whilst the emphasis of our work is mainly in temperate systems, staff and research students are involved in work in the tropics through British Council link programmes, and several split PhD programmes.

A third major research area is the improvement of the safety and quality of livestock products, including milk, meat and eggs. Our “field to fork” expertise allows us to study the relationships between husbandry systems and nutritional inputs of animals and the composition of their products, with further consequences for human diet and health investigated in collaboration with the Food Quality and Health research group.