News and Views - February 2018

Future of Livestock Farming will be under the spotlight at Major AFBI Conference

The challenges and technologies shaping the future of the agri-food industry will be the focal point of a high-profile science outlook conference, hosted by AFBI on 13th March at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick.  With an international panel the conference will investigate some of the global challenges currently facing the agri-food sector.

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AFBI welcomes two new Board Members

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) announced the appointment of two new members of AFBI board with effect from 31 December 2017. Roberta Brownlee (pictured left) and Kate Burns (pictured right) have been appointed from 31 December 2017 to 31 March 2019. 

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AFBI at the Northern Ireland Science Festival 2018

2018's NI Science Festival saw the largest involvement by the Institute's scientists at a number of events. The AFBI Research Vessel Corystes was docked beside the SSE Arena for four days of free tours showcasing the work of AFBI's Marine Fisheries Scientists.  AFBI also joined with other organisations to demonstrate their science to a wide and varied audience of all ages and backgrounds at the NI Science Festival Roadshows which were held in Dungannon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and Newry.

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AFBI Opens it’s Door to the Future Generation to Explore Research Opportunities

AFBI recently hosted a Schools Open Day at its Hillsborough research station. With an excellent turnout, over 158 GCSE and A-Level students from Belfast, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Lisburn, Omagh, Portadown and Saintfield had the opportunity to gain a captivating insight into the innovative studies taking place at AFBI.

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Schmallenberg Virus Spreading West

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was first identified in Germany in late 2011 as a cause of malformations in newborn calves and lambs. This virus can cause a temporary dip in production, such as milk output. However, the greatest economic impact comes from abortions, stillbirths and birth defects that can result when pregnant animals are affected. AFBI has recently detected SBV in eight ovine abortion cases in Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone.

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Dutch Consulate Impressed by Agri-Environment Research at AFBI

AFBI recently welcomed a visit from the Senior Commercial Attaché to the Dutch Embassy, Ms Tessel Van Essen, the Agricultural Counsellor of the Netherlands Embassy, Mr Tim Heddema and Mr Carson McMullan, the Honorary Consul for the Netherlands in Northern Ireland, to its Hillsborough site.  The purpose of the visit was to view and discuss current research at AFBI which is examining a range of options to reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming while promoting the competitiveness of the industry.

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AFBI Showcase Research at Dairy Open Days

AFBI Hillsborough's Dairy and heifer unit staff recently took part in the Dairy Open Days organised by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).  The event was a great opportunity to showcase AFBI's ongoing research projects to the large number of industry attendees. One of the exhibits on the AFBI stand challenged farmers to consider factors influencing the quality of silage made on their farms, and the impact of this on subsequent performance.

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AFB Pig Researcher at major project meeting in Italy

Dr Ramon Muns of AFBI Hillsborough recently attended the Horizon 2020 EU PiG innovation network in in Reggio Emilia, Italy. AFBI is a partner of the EU PiG network which exists to identify best practices employed by pig producers across Europe and disseminate the applied knowledge among the different regions.

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Spring is arriving at AFBI 

The first lambs have just been born at AFBI Hillsborough and it was triplets!  We are now looking forward to the lambing season and recording the performance of the lambs from our composite ewes and our Suffolk and Texel recorded rams.


AFBI Fisheries scientists have taken part in another NI Science Festival event on Friday 23rd February.  This event "A Taste of Prehistory" took place at the Ulster Museum and was SOLD OUT! 

See the next issue of News and Views for a full report and images.