Animal & Veterinary Sciences has four research teams located at either the Roslin Institute Building near Edinburgh or the SRUC Auchincruive campus near Ayr:
The Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research Team
Located in the Roslin Institute Building. Led by Professor Cathy Dwyer.
The team carries out research into the welfare of all the major farmed species, using quantitative and qualitative behavioural techniques, supported by physiological assessments, to understand how animal needs can be met in modern farming practice. Our work spans basic science questions, about animal function and the biological basis of animal behaviours, to applied issues such as the development of innovative animal welfare assessment methods and solutions to on-farm welfare problems. The SRUC coordinated EU project AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) will be a very important route to the team implementing its research internationally. The team is engaged in animal welfare education in collaboration with the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh and collaborates extensively with colleagues in AVS, elsewhere in SAC and internationally.
The Animal Breeding Research Team
Located in the Roslin Institute Building. Led by Dr Mike Coffey.
The team are primarily engaged in research to create the tools that allow farmers and breeding companies to select better animals. This effort spans traditional quantitative genetics, statistics, animal breeding theory and breeding programme design right through to genomics and the implementation of genomic evaluations.
The team are also interested in and actively engaged with industry on the collection of suitable phenotypes for genetic and genomic improvement of farm livestock. These include health and welfare traits and increasingly traits of wider stakeholder interest such as greenhouse gas emissions and product quality. The incorporation of more traits into breeding goals is leading to improvements across a range of economically important traits but requires careful consideration of correlated and sometimes unwanted responses.
The global nature of livestock breeding means that the team is actively involved in and collaborate with International animal breeding activity such as Interbull, Interbeef, ICAR. Currently we work with dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats, fish and dogs.
The Avian Science Research Centre
Located at SRUC's Auchincruive Campus in Ayr. Led by Dr Nick Sparks.
The Team is focussed on the nutrition, welfare and control of zoonoses in commercial poultry but also works with other species including wild birds. With research ranging from nutrient partitioning to the evaluation of novel feed ingredients to understanding pain experienced by broilers with poor gait scores to the control of Campylobacter, our work is designed to provide answers to problems faced by policy makers and producers. Access to facilities that span the production chain from incubation through growing facilities to carcass evaluation are complemented by a close working relationship with breeding, production, feed-additive and pharmaceutical companies throughout the EU and beyond. The joint SAC/University of Glasgow MSc in Applied Poultry Science is delivered primarily by members of the Team.
The Disease Systems Team
Located in the Roslin Institute Building. Led by Dr Mike Hutchings.
The Team uses a bottom up approach to identify, characterise and quantify the key biological processes underpinning disease transmission, persistence and spread in livestock/wildlife host communities. The research spans a range of topics from nutrition x immunity interactions, to the early detection of disease, to the role of wildlife in the epidemiology of livestock disease. Empirical and modelling programmes of research run in tandem. For example experimental and observational research is used to inform the development of stochastic process-based models of animal behaviour and disease transmission. Long term datasets on disease dynamics are used to infer model parameter sets. The research is designed to inform disease control strategies, including gastrointestinal parasites of ruminant livestock, bovine tuberculosis in wildlife and cattle, paratuberculosis in rabbits and cattle and e-coli O157 in cattle.