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Collaboration focuses on increased productivity

Collaboration focuses on increased productivity and better animal health

28 February, 2008

AgResearch has signalled its intention to raise ruminant productivity and welfare standards over the long term with the announcement of a formal collaboration with one of the world's leading animal health research institutes.

For more than fifty years the Scottish based Moredun Research Institute (MRI) has been internationally recognised for its work on infectious diseases in sheep and other ruminants and AgResearch CEO, Dr Andrew West says both organisations stand to gain from the collaboration.

"Ruminant livestock such as sheep, and cattle that are farmed in Scotland are also farmed here in New Zealand. By sharing knowledge, we can create better technologies for farmers," he said.

The relationship was formalised yesterday with a 'Heads of Agreement' signed by Dr West and Professor Julie Fitzpatrick (Director and CEO, Moredun Research Institute) at the Hopkirk Research Institute in Palmerston North - a joint venture between AgResearch and Massey University.

"Some of our scientists have previously collaborated on an ad-hoc basis and all are aware of the potential for greater synergy between our research programmes. The agreement formalises such a relationship and lays the foundation for a set of linked projects that will lead to superior results," says Dr West.

AgResearch Section Manager for Animal Health and Director of the Hopkirk Research Institute Dr Wayne Hein said one of the Moredun's strengths was its focus on parasitology and infectious diseases.

"Scotland and New Zealand both depend heavily on pastoral animal production systems and, not surprisingly, have a similar profile of diseases to contend with. Research teams in both countries focus on gastrointestinal nematodes, Johne's disease, pneumonia and mastitis. We are aiming to get a better alignment between on-going research programmes so that each party can benefit from the outputs. We will also seek opportunities to actively collaborate in future research work."

"The concept is simple enough. Both the Moredun and the Hopkirk already have significant research strength in animal health. By combining our resources more effectively, we hope to be even bigger hitters. A number of areas that we are considering could also lead to outcomes of benefit to both nations," says Dr Hein.

While in New Zealand, the visiting group from the Moredun will meet with scientists from AgResearch and Massey University at the Hopkirk Research Institute to discuss potential areas of collaboration such as research into parasite control, mitigation of drench resistance, bovine mastitis, sheep pneumonia and development of new diagnostic tools.

ENDS

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