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Up to scratch
Poultry and egg production in the UK is an important industry with a total value of £1.4Bn.
More than 40% of the meat we eat is chicken and the UK produces 9Bn eggs every year.
Over 860M chickens are produced here each year to meet our appetite for their meat and the UK is home to 28.7M laying hens.
Bioscience makes major economic and animal welfare contributions to this industry through interventions including:
- Selective breeding
Bioscience comes before the chicken and the egg
The disease coccidiosis costs the UK poultry industry £40M each year. It is caused by the single-celled parasite Eimeria which causes gut swelling and major blood loss and is often fatal. Farmers use a combination of medication and vaccination to control the disease in their flocks. There are 7 different species of Eimeria that can infect chickens and vaccination against one doesn’t protect against the others – this and other factors made development of a vaccine difficult.
In 1989, the Institute for Animal Health created Paracox, a vaccine that gives life-long immunity against all 7 species of the parasite from a single treatment. The vaccine now protects 1Bn chickens world-wide and has been estimated to save the global poultry industry more than £1.5Bn annually.
External Relations Unit