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Chicken welfare can count on £14 million facility to aid research

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.

Computer generated image of the planned National Avian Research Facility

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

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 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.

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, which is incorporated with the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, and The Pirbright Institute, in Surrey. Both institutes, which are renowned for their research into animal diseases, are strategically funded by the BBSRC.

Key aims for the facility include addressing the need for improved sustainability in poultry production in light of an increasing global population and benefitting human health through reducing food-borne diseases.

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

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 KaiserThe Roslin Institute

The facility will enhance research already carried out at The Roslin Institute, such as 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.

Infectious diseases are a major threat to the poultry industry. This new facility at Roslin, along with new facilities being built at Pirbright, will allow researchers at these two institutes and their collaborators nationally and internationally, to undertake the scientific research needed to protect the poultry industry from infectious diseases and to help secure global food supplies.

Professor John FazakerleyDirector of The Pirbright Institute


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.

Combined with National Capability funding to underpin vital research at the National Avian Research Facility, this offers stronger foundations for our world-leading poultry research."

Douglas KellBBSRC Chief Executive

Main contractor Barr Construction is one of the UK's leading design and construction firms and has a track record of delivering high quality facilities for biological research, including Marine Scotland's Aberdeen Fish Veterinary and Aquaria building and the Scottish Association of Marine Science Education Facility in Oban.

Barr will deliver a functional and sustainable space for the staff and we are confident it will provide a stimulating environment to aid their research.

We look forward to working closely with The Roslin Institute team to create a facility that is acknowledged and recognised across the globe and hope this will be the start of an on-going partnership with the Institute.

David MasonSenior project manager at Barr Construction


For more information please contact:

Tara Womersley

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