Project tackling piglet weaning stress with probiotics wins Nutreco competition

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/baramee2554
© GettyImages/baramee2554

Related tags probiotics antimicrobial peptides weaning stress intestinal health Antibiotics

A research project looking at combating weaning stress in piglets with next-generation probiotics and antimicrobial peptides has won Nutreco’s inaugural Young Researchers Prize.

The aim of the competition was to acknowledge and champion the most promising research by PhD and post-doctorate students working around the world across animal, aquaculture and veterinary sciences, said the Dutch group.

The company received research proposal submissions within the three categories; Precision Farming, Young Animal Nutrition, and Animal Health and Welfare. A jury interviewed 10 shortlisted candidates in a series of virtual interviews. Then, this week, the top three candidates presented their proposals to Nutreco CEO, Rob Koremans.

Nutreco Young Researchers Prize head juror and R&D director for Nutreco, Leo den Hartog, told FeedNavigator: 

“This is the first year of the Nutreco Young Researchers Prize. As part of Nutreco’s 25 Year Anniversary celebrations, we wanted to support brilliant young researchers conducting research in young animal nutrition, precision farming and animal health. We received 57 proposals, which is really amazing as we never expected so many proposals. We received proposals from across whole the world Africa, Asia, Australia, Northern America, Southern American. We also received proposals across many different species, cows, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, aqua and horses. The variety and quality of all 57 proposals was exceptionally high and this provided the jury with a very difficult task.”

The jury used criterion to assess the proposals, including the innovative nature of the research, its scientific quality and background, the sustainability aspect, such as whether the proposal had a focus on reducing the use of antibiotics, reducing emissions, improving animal welfare or improving food safety, he said.

“The jury also evaluated whether the proposal had business feasibility, whether the research could be used in practice,” ​added den Hartog. 

The winners

In first place, with a cash prize of €12,000, was Sudhanshu Sudan, a PhD researcher of animal biosciences from the University of Guelph in Canada. Sudhanshu’s winning research project looks at combating weaning stress in piglets with next-generation probiotics and antimicrobial peptides.

The winner of the second-place cash prize of €8,000 was Ning Ma from China Agricultural University, whose research explores how weaned piglet selection by probiotic-derived postbiotics influences long-term intestinal health and the purification postbiotics suitable for the neonatal phase.

And, in third place, was Guillermo Bardera from the University of the West of Scotland. He will receive a cash prize of €5,000 for his research project, which focuses on assessing feed attractability in Pacific white shrimp using Ethovision tracking software.

The award ceremony

The award ceremony was due to take place in May 2020 in Nutreco Headquarters based in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was completed virtually.

“Once the COVID-19 situation has stabilized and we receive clear guidance that it is safe to travel, the three winners will present their research proposals to the Nutreco Research and Development community at special Global R&D Days in the Netherlands,”​ said the company. 

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