Animal medicine has come a long way over the years; for both commercial and companion animals there are far more treatment options available and many conditions can be easily treated or managed. In some cases, like for inherited diseases, eradication is possible through careful selective breeding.
Globally there are;
- 1 billion companion animals
- 3.3 billion livestock animals
- 16 billion poultry animals
This provides a significant challenge and opportunity for the animal health sector.
Animal health is a huge welfare concern as well as having economic repercussions and despite best use of currently available health technologies, in the order of 15% of livestock production in the developed world (nearer 30% in the developing world) is lost to disease. Disease is therefore a major cause of inefficiency and impaired animal welfare in the agriculture sector.
In the companion animal sector, the increasing willingness and capacity of pet owners to spend money on the health and long-term care of their animals combined with technological advances in the veterinary sector with greater product availability has meant that the sector has grown significantly over the last decade and offers substantial opportunities for the future.
Tackling Behaviour-Related Issues
Behaviour-related animal health issues such as aggression in pigs and cattle and feather pecking in poultry provide significant welfare and health challenges. By exploiting the opportunities and developments in neurobiology and behaviour research for the identification of genes underlying these behaviours, we can work towards improved animal health and welfare.
Improved genetic tools for the key livestock species now permit the swift identification and management of some types of inherited diseases. The Biosciences KTN already plays an active role in this through an Inherited Diseases Industry Club (RIDGENE) which it manages and also part funds.
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