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European project LowInputBreeds begins: Improving animal health and product quality in European organic and ‘low input’ livestock production systems

A large-scale project which aims to improve animal health and product quality in European organic and ‘low input’ livestock production systems has just begun.

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(Project press release of October 7, 2009)  The LowInputBreeds project unites 21 partners from Europe and further afield and will develop integrated breeding and management strategies to tackle the issue of improved animal health and food quality.  It will run until 2014 and is co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

“Recent studies have shown that livestock breeds developed for ‘high input’ production systems lack sufficient focus on traits like robustness, which are required for organic and ‘low input’ systems,” says Professor Carlo Leifert of Newcastle University, who is coordinating the project. “There are currently only a few breeding concepts available which focus on the needs of ‘low input’ systems, which include extensive grazing or free range.”

Dr. Veronika Maurer of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the scientific coordinator of the LowInputBreeds project, added: “We will develop integrated livestock breeding and management strategies with the aim to improve animal health, product quality and performance in European organic and ‘low input’ milk, meat and egg production systems.”

The project has four main objectives:

  • To develop and evaluate innovative breeding concepts to deliver genotypes with ‘robustness’ and quality traits required under ‘low input’ conditions.
  • To integrate the use of improved genotypes with innovative management approaches. These will focus on issues where breeding or management innovations alone are unlikely to provide satisfactory solutions e.g. mastitis and parasite control.
  • To identify the potential economic, environmental and ethical impacts of the project’s results. The project needs to ensure that the results are in line with society’s different needs, priorities and consumer expectations.
  • To establish an efficient training and dissemination programme aimed at rapid application of project results in organic and ‘low input’ livestock farming.

LowInputBreeds focuses on six major livestock production systems: dairy and beef cattle, dairy and meat sheep, pigs and laying hens.

The project consortium includes 15 academic centres of excellence and six industrial partners in 15 countries in Europe and also Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and Tunisia. It is coordinated by Newcastle University in the UK (overall coordination) in collaboration with the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL (scientific coordination).

More information

Contacts

  • Professor Carlo Leifert, Nafferton Ecological Farming Group, Newcastle University, Stocksfield, Northumberland, UK, Tel. +44 1661 830222, E-mail: C.Leifert(at)ncl.ac.uk
  • Dr. Veronika Maurer, Animal Husbandry, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, Switzerland, Tel. +41 62 865 72 57, E-mail: veronika.maurer(at)fibl.org

Project website

The project website is available at www.lowinputbreeds.org

Project partners

  • List of the 21 partners of the LowInputBreeds project

Editorial Note

LowInputBreeds is the acronym of the collaborative project: “Development of integrated livestock breeding and management strategies to improve animal health, product quality and performance in European organic and ‘low input’ milk, meat and egg production”.

The project is co-financed as a Collaborative Project by the European Commission, under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (Grant agreement No 222623). However, the views expressed in this press release do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission, nor do they in any way anticipate the Commission’s future policy in this area.

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