Selection of livestock for production – what have been the considerations for public health?

Livestock production and livestock product consumption has changed dramatically since the 1950s. Livestock species and breeds were once selected to graze and scavenge whereas more recent selection has tended towards animals that perform well on concentrate feeds and forage and sedentary conditions.

Livestock products are an important part of the diet in developed countries and are an increasingly component of the diet in low and middle income countries, particularly the urban populations. These changes in diet are a public health concern, prompting increased rates of infection and food related non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

This study will address the need to review the way livestock species and breed are selected and the production systems in which they are raised. The review - the first to look at this in the context of pathogen and NCD related problems - will collate information and data on the changes over the last 50 years to identify the critical decision making points. It will explore if the changes have a basis on public health outcomes in the areas of food borne disease, micronutrient deficiency and overall impact on food related non-communicable diseases.

Critical points of change will be identified and related back to changing supply of livestock production in the area of northern England with a focus on the Merseyside area. Researchers will assess these changes in terms of their contribution to changes in public health outcomes, resulting in a draft peer review paper. The review will identify critical decision-making points in the selection of livestock species and breeds and the production systems they are kept in. The analysis will identify critical gaps in knowledge of this decision-making process, in public health outcomes, and in the process highlight the need for public health policy.

For more information contact Professor Jonathan Rushton

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