Scotland’s Rural College has launched a new Monogastric Science Research Centre, a focus for the College’s work on pigs and poultry, in particular bringing together vital research on nutrition.
The Centre will be headed up by Dr Jos Houdijk, one of SRUC's senior animal scientists, who has spent many years at the forefront of animal nutrition and health research internationally.
Dr Houdijk says: "This approach, integrating pig and poultry work, will enable us to bring two highly related fields together to the benefit of both areas. We are already approached regularly by clients looking to do studies on both species, so launching this Centre is timely, appropriate and logical. The Centre will allow us to expand the cross-species approach, giving us the opportunity to take forward the concept of comparative biology to more such projects."
Currently SRUC has two large projects assessing the nutritional value of animal feed ingredients in relation to both pigs and poultry. The first is researching alternative sources of nutrition from faba beans (broad beans), while the other is looking into the nutritional value of rapeseed varieties. Both are part of ongoing work to find alternative food sources and technologies for monogastric species, which will reduce the UK farming industry's reliance on imported feed such as soya bean meal.
Pigs and poultry have much in common with each other biologically, and the centre will allow concepts developed for pigs to be explored in poultry, and vice versa, and open up the possibility of working on other monogastric species such as fish.
For Dr Houdijk this cross-species emphasis will be essential in addressing future challenges, in particular those related to gut health.
He says: "The gut is incredibly important, both when it comes to efficiently processing food and effectively resisting disease, and there are many questions still to be answered when it comes to balancing these two priorities under the overall objective to increase sustainability of animal production systems. Our new Centre will help facilitate joint research in this area in the years ahead."
Currently avian research at SRUC is carried out under the auspices of the Avian Science Research Centre, however that will now be dissolved and this work will become part of the Monogastric Science Research Centre.