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UBristol Wyndhurst Farm.jpg University of Bristol

Donation to establish 'living laboratory' for livestock

Center will use emerging technologies to help identify small behavioral and physiological changes at the beginning of a disease, such as mastitis.

A "living laboratory" for livestock will be established at the Bristol Veterinary School in the U.K., following a 1 million pound donation from the John Oldacre Foundation.

The John Oldacre Centre for Sustainability & Welfare in Dairy Production will tackle the global challenge of ethical food security and train the next generation of veterinarians and agriculturalists to help address the major issues facing agriculture, according to an announcement from the University of Bristol.

The center, which will be based within the University of Bristol's commercially-run dairy unit Wyndhurst Farm, will be equipped with the latest data collection devices such as motion detection, global-positioning system tracking and thermographic sensors to gather data that will identify and support changes in agricultural practices, the university said.

The center will bring together colleagues from engineering, data and behavioral sciences to use technology, such as motion sensing, to identify small behavioral and physiological changes at the beginning of a disease, such as mastitis. The Bristol Vet School is already working with colleagues in the university's life sciences faculty, using thermography as a novel way of predicting disease, which can reveal very quickly which cow is ill, the university said. The earlier a disease can be detected, the easier it is to treat effectively.

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

The John Oldacre Centre for Sustainability & Welfare in Dairy Production aims to:

* Identify key problems and new research questions;

* Find new solutions to help address these problems;

* Educate future generations of students and equip them with an understanding in the field of sustainable dairy production and welfare, and

* Share the benefits with the U.K. and global farming community.

This donation marks a long-standing partnership between the John Oldacre Foundation and the University of Bristol.  Since 2003, the foundation has supported the Bristol Vet School and helped to make a positive impact on farming practice by driving further understanding into the causes of disease and welfare problems in dairy cattle, sheep and pigs.

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