We link academic and industry leading research with farmers and food production ‘on the ground’ through our close to market studies.
Our key themes include: Sustainable food, antimicrobial resistance and OneHealth, reproduction and genetics, lameness and welfare, mastitis and milk quality and, bio-technologies and diagnostics.
RAFT have been awarded funding from Innovate UK, H2020 and other industry funding bodies. Some examples of research that RAFT are involved in are:
GenTORE – “GENomic management Tools to Optimize Resilience and Efficiency” – is a European Union funded project within the Research and Innovation Program H2020.
GenTORE will develop innovative genome-enabled selection and management tools to empower farmers to optimise cattle resilience and efficiency (R&E) in different and changing environments. The combined research and outreach program of GenTORE will make a contribution to addressing the challenges facing farming in a changing and volatile world.
The role of livestock in food system resilience in remote, upland regions (ResULTS) will run for four years, from November 2017.
ResULTS will examine the resilience of beef and sheep production in upland regions of Northern England and Scotland, in the face of uncertain environments and policy landscapes, and the consequences to the global and local food systems of these responses.
Four case studies will be undertaken, one in each of Yorkshire Dales, Scottish Borders, Orkney and The Hebrides.
RAFT Farm Network & Operational Group
RAFT has established a network of commercial livestock farms (including dairy and beef enterprises) and an operational group that are equipped with up to date technology and weather stations. The RAFT Farm Network aims to start to address the challenges of how precision farming might help to provide solutions to improve the sustainability of dairy and beef production, and specifically how early warning of disease could prevent disease progression but also reduce the need for antimicrobials.
For more information about the Network and the work that is going on within the group, please visit the website at; https://www.raftfarmnetwork.co.uk/rfndev/
Development of a panel of reproduction diagnostics for the dairy cattle industry to improve productivity and herd health
This collaborative project will develop powerful new tests and portable reading technology for farmers in the dairy industry to improve productivity for UK farmers, improve herd health and to deliver significant environmental benefits through the reduction in methane and ammonia emissions.
Veterinary clinical data surveillance
This project aims to develop a surveillance tool for vet practices, capturing and refining data from existing practice management systems, clinical work in the field including medicines usage and clinical recordings, and objective assessment of the impacts veterinary advice and product usage has on the environmental performance of the livestock herd to map disease and inform decisions ‘on the ground’. These tools would be sold separately, or in combination to government (prevalence of endemic and emerging diseases), the pharmaceutical industry (medicines usage and impact on farm, including benchmarking by veterinary customer); retailers and processors (mitigation of veterinary advice on climate change and farm economics), farmers (indicators for production improvements) and to vet practices themselves, looking to have an effective, easy to use way of recording clinical notes, medicines usage and benchmarking results (from economics to clinical incidence) on their own practice farms and with others across the country. The product has the potential to sell in UK, Europe and more widely using networks in place
Automated Capture and Analysis of Behaviour and Performance Changes in Pigs for Early Detection of Health and Welfare Problems
Subclinical and clinical disease is the main factor responsible for pig system inefficiency and reduction in productivity and welfare. Currently disease detection is done through human observation or diagnostic surveillance, but monitoring continuously involves significant costs and effort.The project aims to develop and validate technology to automatically monitor performance and behaviour in growing pigs. Individual pig and group movements will be automatically captured and analysed using low cost camera installations and computer vision and learning techniques, thereby providing information about pig performance, behaviour and group dynamics so as to allow rapid intervention to improve health and welfare and increase farm efficiency. The consortium has skills in the design of software solutions, animal health & diagnostics, and pig management, with the academic partner being at the forefront of research in computer vision/recognition techniques and pig management & health.
An integrated platform for rapid testing of pathogens in the meat/poultry supply chain
This project will develop a system for rapid detection of hazardous bacteria in foodstuffs. The system is highly innovative, and will be easy to use by food handlers, and farm workers, without needing to send samples to third parties for analysis. This system will help to improve food safety and reduce infections in humans, which will increase consumer confidence in the UK food supply.
Developing a working prototype for sustainable high welfare intensive pig houses integrated with renewable energy generation to inform innovative commercial products and services
Working with a collaborative partnership including Midland Pig Producers, RAFT Solutions Ltd, 4C Engineering, Ove Arup & Partners Ltd, and the universities of Newcastle and Cranfield, we will develop a working prototype for sustainable high welfare intensive pig houses integrated with renewable energy generation. The project will develop new techniques and develop existing information from the USA and from human waste and ventilation management to introduce innovative civil, chemical and mechanical engineering solutions to livestock housing. By the end of this 36 month project, we aim to develop commercial products / services for intensive pig housing to include the delivery of manipulable materials to slatted floor systems for the first time to maximize health and welfare and improve feed conversion rates. We aim to develop the innovative use of circular energy management systems to re-use waste heat for associated businesses e.g. herb or salad growing, or for other commercial or residential applications, whilst minimizing carbon usage, gas emissions and lowering odours produced by pig production. Thus intensive, efficient yet high welfare pig units can be built across the world.
Precision Dairy Management System
Profitable UK dairy farmers achieve competitiveness through efficiency gains thus meeting the challenge of producing quality food, meeting the needs of the market while minimising their impact on resources and the environment. The best measure of economic efficiency at the farm level is net margin per litre of milk produced. This measure captures the effect of both technical, cost and scale efficiency and is therefore an attractive high level benchmark to use across production systems. The latest information from DairyCo’s MilkBench+ data base is that the variation in this measure of efficiency is large, with a difference of 12 ppl between the 25% highest net margin producers and the 25% lowest margin producers. This constitutes a significant opportunity for a large number of farmers to increase profits, production and sustainability.
This project will develop an internet based service for dairy farmers and their approved advisors to manage dairy farm performance. The service will consist of three elements: (1) a sophisticated farm management tool on which users will record a structured set of data to be stored online. This unique system will allow point of use data capture of all physical and financial inputs to the business. 2) the programme will provide analysis for weekly, monthly and annual performance reviews in real time (3) the web service will also provide an analytical tool for users to carry out their own analysis. This part of the service is aimed at advisers. The project requires significant development and will provide a step change in the way farmers and advisors are able to use data on farm. The management tool that this project will develop aims to equip 21st century farmers to meet the challenges of the next decade, satisfying an increasing world demand for food while minimising the impact of production on natural resources
Measurement of parameters of semen quality and assessing the effect of these parameters on fertility performance across 50 Yorkshire cattle herds
Delivering an accurate, objective, cost-effective and comprehensive analysis of fresh and frozen semen to improve fertility parameters on farm, working collaboratively with industry, is an untapped and under-investigated area of UK livestock fertility management. We aim to establish a new service, called SemenRate, using innovative technologies and a simple to use customer facing service package to revolutionize the way semen quality is understood and managed on farm. Improvements in semen quality through accurate and meaningful reports will benefit fertility and conception on farm, therefore maximizing productivity and delivering a sustainable solution to livestock food production.
Optimising the Use of Antimicrobials: Preparing the Industry for in-water delivery in the short term and improving hygiene and more effectively targeting medication in the longer term
Desk based research leading to development of a report and knowledge exchange programme including webinars for pig industry on how best to test, maintain and clean waterlines, as well as highlighting considerations when using water as a delivery method for medication.
AHDB Mycotoxin contamination: assessment of risk in livestock systems
Together with Fera Science, Queens University Belfast and Harper Adams University, RAFT delivered a desk based risk assessment of mycotoxin contamination in livestock systems.