£1 million donation to establish a ‘living laboratory’ for livestock

A ‘living laboratory’ for livestock will be established at the Bristol Veterinary School thanks to a £1 million donation from the John Oldacre Foundation.

The John Oldacre Centre for Sustainability and Welfare in Dairy Production, which will be based within Wyndhurst Farm, the University of Bristol’s commercially run dairy unit at Langford, will be equipped with the latest data collection devices such as motion detection, GPS tracking and thermographic sensors to gather data that will identify and support changes in agricultural practices.

The Centre will bring together colleagues from engineering, data and behavioural sciences to use technology, such as motion sensing, to identify small behavioural and physiological changes at the beginning of a disease, such as mastitis.

The Vet School is already working with colleagues in Life Sciences, using thermography as a novel way of predicting disease, which can reveal, very quickly, which cow is ill. The earlier a disease can be detected, the easier it is to treat effectively.

As well as being a research resource, the Centre will teach undergraduate and postgraduate students in animal production and livestock research, understanding and communicating data, and engagement with the wider farming community.

Professor Richard Hammond, head of the Bristol Veterinary School, said: “With over 50 years of world-leading teaching and research in animal welfare and farming, the Bristol Veterinary School can make a vital contribution to this critical challenge.

“Thanks to this generous donation from the John Oldacre Foundation, we can embark on pioneering new research that we hope will play a vital role in advancing sustainable farming and animal welfare and tackle some of the major agriculture issues that face the world today.”

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