Nimrod involved in FarmWatch research project

FARMWATCH is a research project using bioinformatics and machine learning to find new ways to identify and pinpoint disease in poultry farms in China with the aim of reducing the use of antibiotic treatment.

The £1.5m project is a partnership between researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment in collaboration with commercial partners, Nimrod Veterinary Products in the UK and New Hope Liuhe in China.   The project is funded by Innovate UK and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST).

Antibiotics in poultry production

The rapid increase in poultry production to meet growing demand in China has resulted in extensive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics. With antibiotic resistance now one of the most threatening issues worldwide, effective and rapid diagnostics of bacterial infection in chicken farming can reduce the need for antibiotics, which will reduce epidemics and ABR.

The researchers in Nottingham will be working with colleagues in China to take thousands of samples from the animals, humans and environment of nine farms, in three Chinese provinces over three years. This complex ‘big’ data will be analysed for new diagnostic biomarkers that will predict and detect bacterial infection, insurgence of ABR, and transfer to humans. This data will then allow early intervention and treatment, reducing spread and the need for antibiotics.

Transforming animal care and protecting consumer health

Dr Tania Dottorini, Assistant Professor in Bioinformatics and member of the Future Food Beacon, is leading the project in Nottingham, said: “This is a hugely important project that has the potential to transform the ways farm animals are treated and looked after. For the first time we are using large-scale collection of data, statistical modelling and data mining powered by machine learning and cloud computing to find answers to some big problems faced by the farming industry.”

Donna Renney, Director of Operations, Nimrod Veterinary Products said, “Nimrod Veterinary Products is delighted to be working with UK and Chinese partners to find new interventions to support improved poultry production in China and the reduction in the use of antibiotics. What is striking about this project is its scale and ambition which would not have been possible without such a strong partnership between academia and business in the UK and China.”

The FARMWATCH consortium comprises outstanding industrial and academics partners in the UK and in China, offering a unique combination of academic and industrial expertise in machine learning, statistical and mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, sequencing, cloud computing, microbiology, infection control and veterinary treatment, food safety, surveillance, epidemiology.

FarmWatch project-Donney Renney and David Renney pictured

Farmwatch research project China