The University is about to launch new facilities at its farm to carry out research into outdoor-reared pigs, and is set to significantly upgrade its indoor-reared pig research centre. The combined investment across the facilities is worth in excess of £7m.
Professor Helen Miller, Director of the University Farm, said: "We are making the investment to create new knowledge which will benefit both British pigs and the pig industry."
Leeds’ pig research focuses on themes identified by the livestock industry as central to improving quality and productivity: animal nutrition, production systems and reproduction, behaviour and environment.
"Animal feed is the largest variable cost which the industry bears," said Professor Miller, who is based in the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences.
"One of the areas we will study in this new facility is how to improve outdoor sow nutrition to maximise the wellbeing and productivity of individual animals.
"This should also result in improved profitability, providing significant support for individual farmers and for larger businesses across the rural economy."
The investment includes a three-fold increase in the number of sows from 200 to 600. Of these, 200 will live outdoors.
This will put the facility on a par with commercially-run pig farms and will create a step change in the type of research the University’s academics can carry out.
Larger sample sizes will increase the scope of research that can be conducted and will provide information to commercial farmers and the livestock support industries enabling them to make informed choices that could help increase profitability and sustainability.
Installing new outdoor facilities alongside the indoor facilities will create a unique capability, said Professor Miller.
Among the most prominent outcomes of the new investment will be a greater ability for researchers to make feed recommendations for pigs to keep pace with ongoing genetic improvements.
In addition, the University is recruiting a number of key staff to open up new areas of expertise. The most high profile recruit is Professor Lisa Collins, who is set to join in January from the University of Lincoln. Professor Collins is an epidemiologist, and has developed computer models to predict animal behaviour.
Professor Miller said the new facilities and staff, plus existing expertise, would put the University in a unique position in the UK, and enable it to rival European leaders in this field.
This is a UK-wide programme to link leading livestock research bodies with industry partners, to improve livestock quality and husbandry across the board.
Each of the 12 research organisations takes the lead on one aspect of livestock or related food research – Leeds is the lead organisation for pig research, while others such as the University of Nottingham lead on dairy.
There are currently 20 business and industrial partners, including AB Agri, Tesco, For Farmers ltd, The Co-Operative Group, and Devenish Nutrition.
Dr Mark Young, Director of Innovation at the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock said: "CIEL is investing in world class facilities to empower our world class scientists with the aim of driving innovation to enhance livestock food production across the supply chain.
"Our focus on innovation and our industry membership mean this will deliver real value to all parts of the supply chain. The University of Leeds outdoor pig unit is a key facility in our work to deliver user focused innovation to the pork industry."
Journalists requiring more details should contact Peter Le Riche in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 2049 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
Anastasia Zhuravleva, EPSRC (Jan 2017), £100,792