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11.03.2016

Bovine ‘bum bag’ design challenge: Ensuring hygienic collection of faeces from livestock

Moredun scientisits recently set researchers at the School of Textiles & Design a particularly tricky challenge: how to develop a ‘bovine bum bag’ to ensure the hygienic collection of faeces from livestock.

Faecal collection is routinely carried out by research scientists to collect parasitic organisms as a first step in the development of new vaccines and medicines.

No commercial products are available for this, so currently scientists use harnesses and bags which were developed in-house at the Moredun Research Institute (MRI), many decades ago, using materials that aren’t really up to the job. 

There are several issues with the current system including:

  • sample losses of up to 50%
  • health and safety concerns regarding the handling of faeces by staff
  • issues with the bag collection system not being in the correct position and becoming contaminated
  • issues with the current harness becoming tangled and/or dirty and
  • discomfort for the animals

 

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design in the Scottish Borders will now design, prototype and evaluate a new system for faeces collection.  The new system will have:

  • A durable harness or garment that comfortably animals of different sizes without trailing straps
  • A strong outer collection bag that is securely fixed to the harness  and an easily-removable, inner (disposable and compostable) collection bag