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Department of Animal Health and Bioscience

Blichers Allé
Postbox 50
DK-8830 Tjele
tel:+45  8999 1900
fax:+45  8999 1166
[email protected]

Research Centre Foulum

Head of department:  Klaus Lønne Ingvartsen


Research objectives and focus

It is the mission of the Department of Animal Health and Bioscience (HBS) to conduct research and innovation within our core areas: nutrition, physiology, cell biology, immunology, ethology, disease prevention, epidemiology, and production and health management. Livestock research is carried out with focus on developing health, reproduction, welfare and quality-promoting strategies while at the same time considering the environment, efficiency and economy. These activities constitute the foundation for HBS's teaching, research-based service to the public sector, and cooperation with industry and the agricultural sector.

It is the vision of HBS to be among the internationally significant research institutions regarding research and education within our core areas. This effort shall produce knowledge and solutions relating to current and future demands for a sustainable livestock production. The aim is a production with high standards of animal welfare, food quality and safety, as well as low use of medication and low environmental impact.

HBS works with many different problem areas related to nutrition, different aspects of physiology, immunology, ethology, disease prevention, welfare assessment, management and decision support systems.

HBS focuses on ensuring optimal nutrition with a view to reducing the environmental impact from the livestock production and on high animal welfare and health. In this connection HBS focuses on developing and improving methods and techniques describing the energy-promoting, functional, essential and health-promoting and damaging feed components. Research is also done in the biological effects of vegetable and animal foodstuffs with specific health-promoting characteristics at cell, organ and whole animal level. In parallel with this, a current development is taking place of new state-of-the-art cell, organ and whole animal models that will make it possible to obtain basic knowledge of the causal mechanisms and health-promoting and /or damaging characteristics of specific nutritional components.

HBS has long-standing experience and knowledge of feeding strategies to ensure a healthy and stable gastrointestinal environment which contributes to preventing unnecessary use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Through our research we investigate how the nutrition, microflora, genotype and feed technology interact. At the same time the research uncovers the nutritional possibilities of limiting gas and odour emissions from the livestock production.

Basic studies are conducted concerning behavioural and physiological reactions with a view to assessing the biological costs related to stress and pain, and assessment of welfare in relation to barn design and management. Physiological and nutritional initiatives contributing to regulating animal welfare are investigated. Further, behavioural and stress-physiological tests are an integral part of the working tools used when assessing animal needs and welfare. The temporal development in animal welfare is also part of our studies as deviant behaviour and changes in behavioural pattern may be a sign that the animals have unfulfilled needs or that they are affected by stressors.

Research into the biological basis of diseases is performed in order to develop health and reproduction-promoting methods and strategies. We study how nutrition, genotype, production factors and e.g. use of pesticides and other pollutants affect the risk of disease and reproduction problems. Disease mechanisms and genetic, immunological and physiological factors of importance for disease resistance are investigated. We use a number of molecular-biological and system-biological methods and techniques as well as bioinformatics for identification of biomarkers and selection markers. The research contributes to the understanding and characterization of the biological function of these markers, and how they can be utilized in disease surveillance and prevention.

Research is done in the cross-field between biology, sociology, economy and biometry that generates new knowledge of the livestock farmer's decision pattern, theories and methods are developed for production, health, and welfare management in the primary production, and new concepts are developed for fure sustainable livestock production systems.

It is the strategy of HBS to attract new research projects within the human research area across different experimental models (cell, organ and whole animal models) and laboratory facilities and technical expertise.

Research perspectives

The general perspectives in our research are to be able to join input factors (nutrition, management, production system) that are optimally adapted to the animals’ biological needs while at the same time considering production efficiency, reproduction, product quality, health, behaviour and environmental impact. Through a mutual adaptation of animals and production principles we aim to obtain a responsible livestock production as regards animal welfare, where high food safety and quality standards are combined with limited use of medication. By combining the use of new technology and biomarkers and selection markers with diagnosis of selected production diseases at an early stage we aim to promote animal health and welfare in a sustainable animal-based production. The knowledge and results of our department are increasingly expected to be used as a professional basis for providing research-based service to the public sector and establishing rules and regulations. The basic knowledge of our department can also be used in the fields of human physiology, nutrition, medicine and surgery.

Last updated: Wednesday 10 March 2010