Welcome to the FEED Project

Project introduction

Farmer-led Epidemic and Endemic Disease-management (FEED) is a BBSRC-funded project that aims to understand the impact of farmer-led control on livestock disease outbreaks, and to develop effective control strategies for disease outbreaks by taking farmer-led control into account. The interdisciplinary research group includes epidemiologists, mathematical modellers, behavioural scientists and veterinarians from the Universities of Warwick and Nottingham.

Disease transmission models usually focus on the effect of nationally imposed control, and do not also include the impact of farmer-initiated control measures on their individual farms. Focussing on three key diseases, bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), bovine tuberculosis (TB) and foot and mouth disease (FMD), we will collect data on the attitudes and responses that farmers have to infectious diseases and incorporate these into disease transmission models. We will use these updated disease transmission models to predict the impact of various disease control strategies on disease spread and liaise with relevant stakeholders and policy makers to ensure maximum impact from our findings.

Work to date

In February 2020 we conducted four focus groups with a total of 24 dairy farmers to test some of the themes that we thought would be important to investigate. We used BVD as a disease to focus the discussion on and had very informative and engaging discussions which gave some good ideas of what to investigate going forward. Thanks to all the farmers that took part!

We released a nationwide survey for UK cattle farmers in June 2020, in collaboration with AHDB. This included some of the ideas captured in the focus groups and was completed by 475 UK cattle farmers. You can see a summary of our analysis of the factors associated with different types of BVD controls that farmers used on our research page.

Recently we interviewed GB cattle farmers about disease control in their cattle and we are currently analysing the results.

We are also currently creating a model of BVD transmission with collaboration from BVDFree England and have been working on a graphical user interface (GUI) to allow visualisation of different control measures on disease spread which will be used in communication of our results to stakeholders.