Facility aims to improve chicken welfare

Poultry health and welfare, a key factor in a multi-billion pound food industry, will be boosted with the building of a new research centre.

Work has already begun on the £14 million National Avian Research Facility (NARF) at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush campus.

Importance of avian health

This build is a key component of the on-going development of the Easter Bush Campus and reflects the growing portfolio of research that The Roslin Institute is undertaking with the aim of improving the health and welfare of chickens.

Professor David HumeDirector of The Roslin Institute

Its resources will be made available to both national and international researchers studying issues affecting avian health, such as the spread of infections.

This is paramount in an industry worth five per cent of the world-market food value and with rising demand for food from a growing population.

Research could range from looking at diseases that have a huge economic burden on the industry, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, to developing vaccines against infections.

Building of facility

Construction of the facility, which is due to be completed late 2014, is being funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Roslin Foundation and University of Edinburgh.

The initiative also involves collaboration between The Roslin Institute, and The Pirbright Institute in Surrey. Both institutes, which are renowned for their research into animal diseases, are strategically funded by the BBSRC.

Food sustainability

The facility will address the need for improved sustainability in poultry production in light of an increasing global population.

A key aim also includes benefitting human health through reducing food-borne diseases.

The NARF will include sterile areas, known as specified-pathogen-free, for poultry with different genetic compositions that are resistant to viruses, bacteria and parasites.

It will also include conventional avian accommodation as well as laboratories for research.

Chicken is a production animal of major economic importance around the world with 50 billion birds being bred every year. This facility will provide The Roslin Institute and its partners with an outstanding environment for undertaking the studies that will lead to major improvements in poultry health and welfare.”

Professor Pete KaiserDirector of the National Avian Research Facility

Enhancing research

The facility will enhance research already carried out at The Roslin Institute, which is incorporated with the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

This includes studies in avian immunology, vaccine development and the role that genes play in disease resistance.

Researchers from The Roslin Institute were also part of a team of UK scientists that produced genetically modified chickens unable to spread bird flu.

BBSRC is investing in research and infrastructure that will help to secure the future of the UK’s poultry industry. Of the £85Bn global poultry market, around 50 per cent of breeding chickens come from genetic stock developed in the UK.The construction of new poultry facilities and research labs at The Roslin Institute, together with new facilities for poultry virology to be built at The Pirbright Institute, provides cutting-edge infrastructure for research into poultry health and poultry production.

Douglas Kell,Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

The main contractor on the construction is Barr Construction, one of the UK’s leading design and construction firms, which has a track record of delivering high quality facilities for biological research.

This includes Marine Scotland’s Aberdeen Fish Veterinary and Aquaria building and the Scottish Association of Marine Science Education Facility in Oban