Enhancing biosecurity in livestock production
6 curious cows standing in a green field with blue skies above them, staring straight into the camera

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Project overview

Coordinated by Ghent University, BIOSECURE is a forthcoming four-year research project supported by the European Union with a budget of 5 million euros and 17 participating partners, from 12 European countries. Biosecurity is critical for the management of animal health and disease control however, implementation at the farm level remains often insufficient.

 BIOSECURE project aims to enable decision makers in livestock farming to understand, prioritise and implement evidence-based, cost-effective, and sustainable biosecurity management systems. This will be carried out through research conducted by various work packages and tasks that include:

  • Reviewing the current understanding of biosecurity throughout the livestock production chain.
  • Quantifying the impact of biosecurity practices on the prevention of infection and spread of disease.
  • Enhancing current biosecurity measures, as well as expanding on these by carrying out field studies and performing experiments.
  • The socio-economic impact of the BIOSECURE project will be assessed.
  • Stakeholder engagement will be facilitated to support knowledge transfer and implementation of key exploitable results.

The new or enhanced biosecurity management systems developed in the BIOSECURE project will help farmers of various animal species (pigs, poultry, cattle, small ruminants) and of different production types (indoor-outdoor) to keep animals healthy. 

Project objectives

  1. To facilitate stakeholder engagement to support interactive knowledge exchange, behavioural change, and uptake of key exploitable results.
  2. To collect existing biosecurity intelligence throughout the livestock production chain.
  3. To quantify the impact of biosecurity practices on infection prevention and economics.
  4. To enhance biosecurity measures through quantitative and qualitative field studies and experiments.
  5. To assess the socio-economic impact of BIOSECURE measures beyond the farm level.

Work packages

WP 1 will ensure effective and efficient methods for collaboration and cooperation amongst farmers, scientists, veterinarians, farm advisors, policy makers, private companies, service providers and more, which will lead to greater acceptance of collectively generated biosecurity solutions. WP 1 will act as a platform to connect all these people together. A BIOSECURE stakeholder map and repository will be created to facilitate stakeholder engagement. WP 1 will provide training and methodological support to BIOSECURE partners in the technical work packages. WP 1 will also capitalise on field studies using a mixed method approach by gathering feedback from researchers on their experiences and learnings on engaging directly in research involving stakeholders across three different levels of intervention including; individual, network and local community. This will be carried out via the use of online research logs and research diaries and will be analysed by thematic and document analysis.

Tasks 

  •  Biosecurity stakeholder mapping (Lead: Teagasc).
  • Provision of training and methodological support in multi-actor approach for project partners (Lead: Teagasc).
  •  Lessons learned from the mixed method biosecurity interventions (Lead: University of Nottingham).

WP 2 will collect existing biosecurity data and information throughout the livestock production chain. This will be achieved by performing a thorough review of the existing experimental and epidemiological data on the transmission of infections from pigs, poultry, cattle and small ruminants kept in different production systems (indoor/outdoor). Information will be retrieved via animal disease databases and gaps in the data will be covered by systemic literature reviews and meta-analysis to assess transmission routes and rates within and between farms.

Tasks 

  • Review of experimental and epidemiological data on transmission of selected diseases (Lead: Kreavet).
  • Create an overview of existing data on the application of biosecurity practices, supporting measures, measurement systems, guidelines and policy measures (Lead: Ghent University).
  • Use of disease occurrence, animal movement, wildlife and other public available database to create biosecurity risk maps (Lead: University of Copenhagen).
  • Analysis of complimentary and conflicting effects of herd level biosecurity practices and animal welfare (Lead: Utrecht University).

WP 3 will develop and adapt a range of methods to quantify biosecurity practices and their impacts on prevention / economics in different species and production systems. This work package will develop risk assessment tools to quantify the probability of introduction of selected pathogens in pig, poultry, cattle and small ruminant farms and to estimate the impact of biosecurity practices to reduce such probability. The tools developed in this work package will enable the implementation of tailored options in farms based on the evaluation of their risks, expected impact and their economic benefits.

Tasks

  • Farm level risk assessment models (Lead: Universitat Autònoma Barcelona).
  • Modelling effectiveness of biosecurity practices to reduce within farm transmission models (Lead: Utrecht University).
  • Improving and extending existing biosecurity quantifying tools (Lead: Biocheck.Gent).
  • Cost benefit analysis of biosecurity measures (Lead: University of Copenhagen).
  • Development of farm level biosecurity guidelines (Lead: University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest).

WP 4 has been designed to collect missing information on biosecurity (gaps identified in WP 2 and information missing for the modelling in WP 3 and WP 5). This work package will test tools and biosecurity intervention approaches in real livestock farm settings and exploit biosecurity scoring tools developed in WP 3 to evaluate the impact of interventions. This work package will focus on the on-farm situation as well as on those actors that move onto and between livestock farms with potentially risky contacts (farm visitors, service personnel and transporters) and contact to animals from other farms or wildlife in the local area.

Tasks

  • Cross sectional field data collection (Lead: Biocheck.Gent).
  • Testing and validation of biosecurity measures and testing tools (Lead: Estonian University of Life Sciences).
  • Intervention study to evaluate biosecurity supporting measures (Lead: University of Copenhagen).

WP 5 will assess the impact of biosecurity measures on pathogen transmission and disease control at sectorial and territorial level. Existing mechanistic models developed by consortium members or available in the literature will be adapted to account for relevant external biosecurity practices and risks (access to outdoor and exposure to relevant wildlife), farm characteristics (size, density, biosecurity level) and contact structures between farms (animal movements, pyramidal structure of the production chain). Models will be calibrated with inputs from WP 3, epidemiological data from consortium partners, literature, for a selected number of high-impact livestock diseases identified in WP 2. As well as this, the economic impact of policy scenarios will be analysed according to compartment levels (sector, food, supply chain, agro-food systems) to verify economic stability beyond farm level. Data from WP 3 will be used to do this.

Tasks

  • Epidemiological impact of biosecurity practices at territorial level (Lead: INRAE).
  • Economic impacts of biosecurity policy scenarios (Lead: University of Bologna).
  • Development of guidelines for minimal biosecurity requirements and policy scenarios (Lead: University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest).
  • Identification and evaluation of bio-secure business models (Lead: University of Bologna).

WP 6 will be led by Biocheck.Gent. BIOSECURE will widely communicate and disseminate the knowledge created by the project with the aim to promote the adoption of the technical solutions and recommendations developed in the project. A BIOSECURE twitter channer and LinkedIn group will stimulate networking. A communication kit and visual identity will be available containing a logo, document templates (Word, PPT, Agenda), Posters, a flyer and factsheets will be established with adapted material for target groups. Press releases will highlight key achievements. A BIOSECURE podcast eill discuss different key topics of biosecurity and the BIOSECURE research results in an accessible way.

Tasks

  • Definition of detailed plan for exploitation dissemination and communication.
  • Dissemination and communication activities.
  • Exploitation planning and IP management.

BIOSECURE will be coordinated by Ghent University.

Tasks

  • Strategic decision making and project governance.
  •  Project management and administration.
  • Scientific coordination and technical review.