Biggest poultry research centre in Europe opens in Scotland

Scotland is pushing ahead with its aim to become a global leader in agri-research, with the opening this week of a new £5.6m poultry research centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Called the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre (AAISC), the new facility at the Bush Estate is owned by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), co-funded by Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (Ciel) and is the biggest of its kind in Europe.

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“Our remit is to provide scientifically sound replicated trials, from small-scale pilots through to commercially-relevant conditions under a total supply chain umbrella,” said a spokesman.

“The current poultry houses will be combined with an experimental hatchery and a small processing plant, so that we offer research capability, from egg to drumstick.”

Gut health project

One of the first projects is in collaboration with Gama Healthcare and Ciel on novel antimicrobials, aimed at maintaining gut health in broilers.

Another project will examine the role of amino acid nutrition on the birds’ ability to resist performance challenges arising from sub-clinical enteric disorders.

Two projects on feed additives with broilers and layers are also under advanced discussion, while other projects will address bird physiology, behaviour, health and welfare, including for turkeys.

“One of the big advantages we have is that, being so close to other research centres, such as the Roslin Institute, the University of Edinburgh and the Moredun Research Foundation, we will be able to achieve synergies that can’t be replicated elsewhere,” said Jos Houdijk, who heads up the new facility.

“We will have a high stocking density of animal research scientists, which will benefit our academic and commercial clients alike.”

In total, SRUC has invested £3.6m with support from the Scottish Funding Council’s Financial Transactions Programme, while £1.9m has been put in by Ciel, with funding from Innovate UK.

SRUC’s old poultry research facility at Auchencruive, Ayrshire, closed in March.

Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre facilities

  • Large brooder house with 144 floor pens for up to 5,800 broilers
  • Multi-purpose poultry house, with 64 experimental units for up to 1,344 laying hens in enriched colony units, plus four smaller rooms for up to 960 broilers
  • One larger room for flexible use, including 36 raised-floor metabolism units, to establish the nutritional value of novel approaches
  • Staff of 30-35 (once fully operational), including at least four post-graduate students