Food safety cannot be guaranteed without understanding production systems, and our interdisciplinary research extends into Agri-health and Food Systems. Agricultural economics is also key discipline to integrate with knowledge of livestock systems in different cultures.

RVC researchers work with welfare scientists, economists and sociologists and focus on increasing economic and welfare resilience by prioritising research into diseases and conditions that threaten reproduction, productivity, food security and public health. They are also in regular contact with farmers, breeders and industry groups.

They work on problems including:

  • Infertility in dairy cows
  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Johne’s disease
  • Bovine viral diarrhoea
  • Avian coccidiosis
  • Porcine respiratory disease
  • Porcine multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS)

They also work on research areas such as:

  • Reproduction and development
  • Sheep genetics

The College, in collaboration with University of London Worldwide, offers a part-time, distance learning course in Livestock Health and Production which has led to the development of short courses and programmes designed to develop the skills and knowledge of those working in the agri-food industry.

Projects such as the Dairy-Co consortium (led by Nottingham) integrate knowledge of dairy calf rearing, disease control and welfare indicators in calves, and allow the collection and analyses of national data.

The availability on-site of a controlled environment facility allows RVC scientists to translate data from the field and laboratory to re-create accurate in vivo models in pigs and poultry for the study of socio-economic, genetics/breeding and welfare impacts of diseases and syndromes. Recent and ongoing projects include work on PMWS, porcine circovirus 2, swine influenza, Mycoplasma species and avian coccidiosis.

Useful links to related programmes outside of RVC:

IMMANA (Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions): IMMANA is a new five-year research initiative funded by the Department of International Development (DFID). The aim of IMMANA is to develop robust scientific evidence guiding changes in global agriculture to feed the world’s population projected to hit nine billion by 2050 in a way that is both healthy and sustainable. The IMMANA collaboration is coordinated by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and includes leading experts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; SOAS, University of London; and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston (USA).

Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH): The aim of LCIRAH is to better address complex global issues surrounding the need to feed nine billion people healthily by 2050

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA): LANSA was an international research partnership. They were finding out how agriculture and agri-food systems can be better designed to advance nutrition. They were focused on policies, interventions and strategies that can improve the nutritional status of children in South Asia.

Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS): ZELS is a joint research initiative between the Department for International Development (DFID) and:

  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)

Its aim is to make a step change in the research evidence available to inform decision makers on how to minimise the health risks associated with the rapidly changing nature of livestock systems in developing countries, focusing on those risks which impact on the livelihoods and health of poor people.

Led by Dr Barbara Haesler

Senior Lecturer in Agrihealth

Barbara is working as a Senior Lecturer in Agrihealth at the RVC in collaboration with colleagues from the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH). She has a strong interest in applying integrated approaches to health to understand better food systems and how changes in those impact on food safety and food security and to improve the wellbeing of people and animals through better resource allocation.

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