THE UNITED KINGDOM, Nottingham. Concerns about the extensive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in Chinese poultry production have led to the launch of a new research project designed to improve the health of the nation’s farmed chickens.
The Farmwatch project will use machine learning to find new ways to identify and pinpoint disease in poultry farms in China, reducing the need for antibiotic treatment and lowering the risk of antibiotic resistance transferring to human populations.
The project is a partnership between researchers at the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment and the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. Funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and Innovate UK, the researchers are also collaborating with commercial partners, Nimrod Veterinary Products (UK) and New Hope Liuhe (China).
The huge increase in poultry production to meet growing demand in China has led to the rise in antibiotic use, leading to a worrying increase in cases of antibiotic resistance (ABR) diagnosed in animals and, as a result, humans, via direct contact, environmental contamination and food consumption.
The researches will be taking thousands of samples from chickens, humans and the environment on nine farms in three Chinese provinces over three years. This complex “big” data will be analysed for new diagnostic biomarkers that will predict and detect bacterial infection, insurgence of ANR, and transfer to humans. This data will then allow early intervention and treatment, reducing spread and the need for antibiotics.