Ruminant Population Health

SPILaMM: Sheep Performance Improvement through Lameness Monitoring and Management

Lameness is the main cause of both poor productive and reproductive performance on sheep farms. Reducing product value for farmers, processors, retailers and consumers, it costs the industry around £80m every year.

Our Ruminant Population Health Research Group is leading an Innovate UK funded project designed to address this major challenge. We’re working in collaboration with industry partners Dunbia and Farm Wizard.

Spotlight project

Empowering farmers through technology

Together, we’re conducting a controlled trial involving 50-60 sheep farms, testing the efficacy of innovative hardware and software that we’ve developed into a smartphone app designed to reduce lameness and improve data collection.

Our overall aim is to address the challenge of sheep lameness and develop our innovative technology so it can help farmers make more informed decisions about the condition.

The project will also include:

  • deepening the industry’s understanding of factors that contribute to sheep lameness, including environmental issues
  • using time-series analysis for environmental data to predict lameness patterns
  • assessing the effectiveness of lameness data collection and feedback systems (using innovative hardware and software systems developed as part of this project)
  • quantifying the effect of lameness on production using data from multiple farms
  • understanding farmers’ perceptions of technology and their decision-making around adopting it on their farms, using qualitative and quantitative methods

Building an important body of knowledge

This project earned The University of Nottingham’s ESRC Impact acceleration award in 2016, enabling us to build our impact case with Dunbia and further develop our work in this field. Our previous work on best practice for lameness, conducted in partnership with the University of Warwick, was cited in the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s 2011 report.

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Ruminant Population Health

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD