The Project

HealthyLivestock will carry out a research programme to study the contributions of enhanced animal health and welfare on reducing the need to use antimicrobials in pigs and poultry.

The European Union part of the HealthyLivestock project is funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement number 773436

About the project

Infectious diseases are the most common diseases in the world.

Such diseases can be very serious and life-threatening. Many of those diseases are caused by organism such as bacteria, whereas the medicines against the bacterial diseases, are called antimicrobials. They are one of the most valuable inventions in the history of human and animal medicine and since their discovery, antimicrobials saved the lives of millions of people and animals. However, every antimicrobial use inevitably promotes the emergence of defence mechanisms by the disease agent. Bacteria will become resistant to the treatment, making the once so valuable antimicrobial worthless.

In livestock production systems animals are often held under sub-optimal conditions.

Moreover, efforts to maximize production put further pressure on the animals’ defense system, making the animals more susceptible to infections. Finally this may result in situations where-in the animals get sick and have to be treated with antimicrobials, with an enhanced risk for the emergence of AMR.

HealthyLivestock has chosen to tackle antimicrobial resistance at its roots.
Through a multidisciplinary approach that will lead to:

  • A reduction of the risk for animals to get exposed to disease agents;
  • An early detection of health problems and specific diseases;
  • An increased resilience of the animals towards disease challenges;
  • And if antimicrobials are needed, a more precise use or alternatives.


HealthyLivestock comprises two pillars: an EU pillar and a Chinese pillar.

The EU part is funded by the European Commission under the H2020. The Chinese part is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China.


6 specific objectives are identified:

Reduction of the risk of pathogen exposure and spread on modern intensive broiler and pig farms in China and Europe through the development and application of farm-specific tailor-made biosecurity protocols.

Increasing resilience of pigs and poultry toward disease challenges, through the use of animal welfare friendly systems and improvement of gut health via probiotics in combination with traditional Chinese medicines.

To develop, validate and deploy automated behaviour and live weight analyses systems that enable trait specific monitoring for early detection of both generic health challenges and specific diseases.

To reduce the use of antimicrobials by developing methods of precision medication for pigs and broilers, or by offering alternatives to conventional medication.

To identify, based on deliverables of specific objectives 1-4, the most promising technical and management practices, on the basis of practical feasibility, societal acceptance and economic viability.

To translate most promising technology and management practices that are feasible, societally acceptable and economically viable into tools provided to stakeholders (including policy makers) to improve health & welfare and reduce antimicrobial usage in broiler and pig farming.


Innovating preventive management including biosecurity : Will quantify the main factors associated with prevention of disease spread on farms through housing or management and establish performance indicators to assess them

Improving animal resilience

The overall objective of this WP is to increase the resilience of pigs and poultry against disease challenges in modern intensive husbandry systems and by doing so reduce antimicrobial input .
Will study ways to improve the ability of animals to withstand or deal with pathogen challenges through welfare improvements which reduce stress or through nutritional measures improvement to the balance of gut microbiota through TCM or probiotics

Rapid detection of disease

Develop, validate, and deploy an automated behaviour and live weight analysis system that enables trait-specific monitoring for early detection of both generic health challenges and specific diseases . Early detection investigates ways of applying Precision Livestock Farming techniques to develop tools for early detection of health problems, both generic and specific, such as digestive and respiratory diseases. It is structured into three tasks that study how automated monitoring with a variety of sensors identifies individuals or groups in need of treatment

Targeted use & alternative medication

WP4 Targeted use of medication & alternative solutions reduces the need for antimicrobials by targeting individuals or sub-flocks for medication and by use of non-conventional alternatives

Validation of potential solutions

The overall objective of this WP5 is to identify the most promising technical and management practices to reduce the need for antimicrobials, on the basis of practical feasibility, societal acceptance and economic viability.
This WP will investigate the relative merits of the findings in WPs 1-4 in two parallel processes: the management related activities regarding Health & Welfare plans of WP1, and the Technical Solutions investigated in WPs 2-4

Dissemination and Exploitation

The overall objective of WP6 is to provide stakeholders with tools to improve health & welfare and reduce antimicrobial usage in broiler and pig farming.
This WP will consist of 7 Tasks, starting with the creation of a Dissemination plan, followed by 6 stakeholder-oriented communication activities

Project Coordination

Project Management : The overall objectives of this WP are to achieve the aims of the project in time, within the available budget and to the highest possible standard