Welfare has just gone Tech

Salmon being sampled for clinical biochemistry at Kames

The latest analytical techniques make it possible to obtain a more rounded view of the health of stock

Since the arrival of SARS Covid 19 into the UK, it is believed that more than 70% of the population have, at some point, been infected with the virus. Of course, “infected with” is not always the same as “suffering from”, and this distinction lies at the very heart of WellFish Tech’s approach to monitoring fish health.

WellFish have now processed and examined over 500,000 blood biochemistry end points from Atlantic salmon. Within this rapidly expanding data set, patterns in biomarker profiles have emerged that are indicative not just of the animal’s general state of health, but more specifically that of individual organ systems, such as gill, pancreas and liver, cardiac and skeletal muscle etc. This level of granularity provides important additional context when clinical biochemistry reveals a population of fish to be “health-compromised”.

Often biomarker profiles will shift away from “normal” in apparently healthy stock which, when subjected to subsequent further analysis, are shown to be either positive for an infectious agent or exposed to very low levels of harmful marine biota. Conversely fish which have tested positive for a particular pathogen are not always clinically sick – infective with but not suffering from.

Knowledge of both these states allows health and production managers to reach informed stock management decisions, especially where those decisions may have an impact on survival.

Quite apart from the hard metric of survival, “knowing” the health of a stock, rather than just its disease status, is front and centre in welfare management – which, for the first time, can now be described numerically.



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