Trakia University

Trakia University – Stara Zagora is one of the leading universities in Bulgaria. The University has 9 Faculties, where many research teams develop various scientific topics in different areas of fundamental, clinical veterinary and human medicine, agricultural sciences, ecology and others. Researchers from the faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine are the initiators of the preparation and implementation of the project GREENANIMO. The researcher team have previous professional experience with national and international projects.

Professor Svetlana Georgieva

Professor Svetlana Georgieva has experience in animal and molecular genetics. Her expertise includes investigation of DNA polymorphism of the key genes (CAST, MSTN, etc.) related to improving the meat and growth traits in farm animals, especially in sheep. She is involved in investigation of genetic diversity and population structure of Bulgarian autochthonous sheep breeds. Svetlana leads the Department “Genetics, animal breeding and reproduction” in Faculty of Agriculture, Trakia University. She is a teacher of genetics to students of all Bachelor programmes in the Faculty of Agriculture.

Professor Todor Stoyanchev

Professor Todor Stoyanchev is a lecturer at Faculty of Veterinary medicine on subjects “Food safety and control” “Hygiene and technology of meat and meat products”, “Laboratory methods in food assay”. Has 15 years of research experience in Food microbiology, meat quality (poultry and pig), modern molecular biological methods PCR and nondestructive NIR spectroscopy in meat quality assay. He has experience as coordinator of national project for PhD students and postdocs, funded by EU framework program in Bulgaria. Well adapted in team work, models for practical approach in experimental design and research demonstrations in laboratory conditions as well as at processing plants (meat); organizing education for young people, students, researchers and PhD students.

Assoc. prof. Stefka Atanassova

Assoc. prof. Stefka Atanassova is a scientist in the field of near infrared spectroscopy and its application for determination of chemical composition and nutrition value of different feed and forages, meat, milk and dairy products quality, detection of bacterial contamination of food products.

Assoc. prof. Dr. Krum Nedelkov

Assoc. prof. Dr. Krum Nedelkovhas more than 15 years’ experience at Trakia University, teaching and working on the problems of dairy cow and sheep nutrition. He has specialized at Pennsylvania State University for one and a half years working on different research topics related to ruminants’ nutrition, incl. flavour preferences of young ruminants, use of alternative selenium sources for sheep, effect of a new methane inhibitor on enteric methane emissions in dairy cows, effect of capsicum on productive performance in growing lambs, etc. More recent work has focused on the estimation of nutritive value (rumen degradability and intestinal digestibility) of all available protein sources in Bulgaria for feeding ruminants in the context of searching for new strategies to improve the feed efficiency of ruminant animals.

Assoc. prof. Georgi Beev

Assoc. prof. Georgi Beevis an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Physics, Agricultural Faculty, Trakia University, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
– assessment of food/feed quality and safety;
– probiotic bacteria and their biotechnological potential as a tool against AMR;
– investigations in the area of sanitary microbiology and green farming systems;
He is a member of the Bulgarian Society for Microbiology (member of Federation of European Microbiological Societies) and Environmental Biotechnology (EB) Division of the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB);
Associated editor in International journals, reviewer of more than 10 scientific journals and has over 40 publications as journal manuscripts and conference proceedings. He has received some international awards and participated in national projects (The National Research Program Healthy Foods for a Strong Bio economy and Quality of Life” 2018 2022.

Assoc. Professor Dr. Nadya Bozakova

Assoc. Professor Dr. Nadya Bozakova has many years of experience (20 years) in research on the behaviour and welfare of different poultry species and sheep, with an emphasis on opportunities to improve the welfare during cold and hot seasons. Nadya’s previous projects include opportunities to improve poultry welfare with food supplements – Zn, vitamin C, arginine and immunomodulators. She worked on a new mathematical model for animal welfare assessment, with an emphasis on the behaviour, hormonal status and biochemistry of avian blood. In addition, Nadya develops projects on the influence of immunomodulators on the specific and non-specific immunity, behaviour and welfare of different poultry species.
Assoc. Prof. Bozakova is a long-time lecturer of veterinary medicine students in the disciplines „Veterinary Hygiene and Animal rearing Technologies“ and a leading lecturer in „Ethology and Animal Welfare“ at Trakia University, as well as a guest lecturer in ethology at Alfonso X el Sabio University, Madrid and University of Cordoba, Spain, and University of Evora and Escola Superior Agrária de Santarem, Portugal.
Since 2016, Nadya has been a member of the Management Committee of two International Programs – COST Action № 15134 “Synergy for preventing damaging behaviour in group housed pigs and chickens”, and INNOGLY COST Action № 18 103.
She is Chairman of the Commission for Animal Ethics at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the Commission for Animal Ethics at the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency. Assoc. Prof. Bozakova has over 70 peer-reviewed publications on the behaviour and welfare of farm animals.

Professor Ivan Varlyakov

Professor Ivan Varlyakovis world ranked scientist in animal behaviour, welfare, animal physiology and stress. Author and co-author of the first for Bulgaria academic courses “Ethology” (1996), “Shelters and hotels for dogs and cats” and “Zoopark management” for the students from all majors at Trakia University, Stara Zagora. Project Leader and coordinator for 42 projects financed by OP of EU, PHARE, USAID, SDCA and TEMPUS. He has more than 30 years of experience in research into dairy cow and sheep behaviour and welfare with a particular focus on the effects of housing and management – behavior in milking parlour, social behavior, effects of the structure and additives in the diet on the digestion, eating behavior and productivity.

Assoc. Professor Dr. Milena Panayotova

Assoc. Professor Dr. Milena Panayotova is world ranked scientist in animal behaviour, welfare, animal physiology and stress. Author and co-author of the first for Bulgaria academic courses “Ethology” (1996), “Shelters and hotels for dogs and cats” and “Zoopark management” for the students from all majors at Trakia University, Stara Zagora. Project Leader and coordinator for 42 projects financed by OP of EU, PHARE, USAID, SDCA and TEMPUS. He has more than 30 years of experience in research into dairy cow and sheep behaviour and welfare with a particular focus on the effects of housing and management – behavior in milking parlour, social behavior, effects of the structure and additives in the diet on the digestion, eating behavior and productivity.Since 2014 Assoc. Prof. Milena Panayotova has Cheef of Improving Committee of Beef Breeding Association Bulgaria. She is author of first 3 Breeding programs of Beef Breeds in Bulgaria – for Limousin, Aberdin Angus and Hereford. The activity of Panayotova is to increase implementation of European standards and practice in breeding of beef breeds especially in the field of modern methods of beef recording of animals for breeding purposes. Another field of investigation in beef area (non-published results) is modeling study of producing systems on the effectiveness of beef farms from type “cow-calf” with several different variants – pasture or intensive indoor rearing and selling calves after weaning or after intensive fattening. She has some experience of work engaging across both industry and academia.


The National Institute for Agricultural Research, Food and Environment (INRAЕ) – Partner France

Representing INRAE in the project GREENANIMO are researchers from the Herbivore Research Unit (HRU). Set up in 2012, the Herbivore Research Unit is a joint research unit between:

  • the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)
  • the Institute of Higher Education and Research in Food, Animal Health, Agroscience and the Environment (VetAgro Sup).

The Herbivore Research Unit conducts research on cattle and sheep, and their production systems. Its staff acquired a strong expertise on CH4 emissions, animal welfare, feeds value, and product qualities. The unit builds on this expertise to address:

  • Adaptive capacities and robustness of animals, with studies on trade-offs between functions, resistance to diseases and stress, and integrated management of health and welfare;
  • Feed efficiency of animals and farms, with studies on digestive and metabolic processes, multicriterion evaluation of feed values – especially non-competitive feed resources -, and management of the forage system;
  • The construction and prediction of sensorial and nutritional qualities of meat, milk, and cheese, with studies on biomarkers and practices;
  • The valuation of complementarities to increase farm systems’ sustainability and resilience, with studies on synergies between system components be they animals, feeds, or productions (mixed farming systems);
  • Ecosystem services and dys-services provided by farming systems, including economics and regulating services (impacts on biodiversity, pollination…) vs.  emission of wastes (CH4, N), with studies  on underlying functions and impact of practices.

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Various approaches and frameworks are used. Scientists combine experiments on animals, use of databases (especially for integrative biology or for meta-analyses), modelling (of a function, a farming system, or an evaluation), system experiments, or follow-up of commercial farms (organic farms as well as conventional ones). To design innovative sustainable agroecosystems, the Herbivore Research Unit explores

  • Agroecology, to integrate natural processes in the design of productive and balanced systems,
  • Precision livestock farming to closely manage farms and avoid wastes,
  • Private-public partnerships to foster innovation.

The Herbivore Research Unit is divided into 5 research teams and three of them are concerned by the project. Team DINAMIC – Feed, Digestion, Microbes, Metabolism, Nutrition The aim of DINAMIC is to understand the intake, and digestive (including microbial) and metabolic mechanisms allowing to monitor nutrition of ruminants considering several dimensions: efficiency of feed utilisation, environmental services/disservices (including limitation of enteric methane emissions and nitrogen wastes), but also digestive comfort, and quality of products. DINAMIC contributes to the design of ruminants feeding systems based on non-human-edible resources. This involves the following lines of research:

  • Characterisation of ruminant feeds (including new resources) and diets (including mixed diets), and development of prediction methods, to assess the dimensions listed above;
  • Quantification of intake, digestive and metabolic fluxes of nutrients to understand and predict the responses of digestion and metabolism to variations of intake and diet composition, and to develop indicators of digestive and metabolic functions;
  • Characterisation of the digestive microbial ecosystem and its interactions with the diet and the host, to understand and control the metabolism of the holobiont (i.e. microbiota & host as an entity).

DINAMIC conducts studies on the biochemistry of feeds (including bioactive secondary compounds) and their utilisation by the animal through in vivo approaches: quantification of intake, digestive and metabolic fluxes of nutrients (including N) and gas (including enteric methane), but also through alternative approaches, including in vitro fermentation and in situ degradation. Analytical predictive methods of feed composition and nutritive value using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) are used. The digestive microbial ecosystem, including its interactions with the host, is characterised through molecular and genomic approaches. Isotopomics and metabolomics approaches help to highlight indicators of digestive and metabolic efficiency. Empirical modelling and meta-analysis supports the integration of knowledge and contributes to the evolution of feed evaluation systems and feed tables. Disciplines: Ruminant nutrition; Physiology; Microbiology Technical skills: Animal experimentation; Biomarkers, Modelling Team CARAIBE – Animal Behaviour, Robustness, and Integrated Approach of Welfare CARAIBE objectives are:

  • To characterize the psychobiological responses of animals to challenges (social, nutritional, or physical challenges, and stressful or painful situations),
  • To identify the behavioural needs and behavioural mechanisms underlying adaptation to challenges (learning and developmental processes, identification of sensitive periods, epigenetic, genotype-environment interactions…),
  • To contribute to integrative management of animal welfare and health by: the identification of early signs of health disorders through behavioural changes, allowing rapid treatment; the design of environmental conditions that stimulate animal robustness (social environment, enrichment, absence of stress); taking benefit of animal behaviour to fight against health disorders.

The ultimate goal is to propose practices that promote animal robustness, welfare and health, while ensuring technical performances and products quality. Team CARAIBE focuses on the understanding of psychological needs, perceptions (emotion and cognition), and behavioural responses of animals to their environment. It notably pays attention to constrained environments related to grass-based systems valuing grazing (climatic, feeding, social, predation constraints, etc.). The research is based on analyses of: animal behaviour (spontaneous behaviour or in reactivity and learning tests), stress responses (activity of the HPA axis and of the autonomic nervous system, post-mortem muscle metabolism, etc.) indicators of inflammation or pain. These psychobiological responses are related to animal performance and to products quality. Disciplines: Ethology; Animal welfare; Animal health; Stress physiology Technical skills: Behavioural observation; Stress biomarkers; Electrophysiology; Animal experimentation; Field surveys Team PERAQ – Farming practices, Robustness, Adaptation and products Quality PERAQ objectives are:

  • To phenotype and quantify the adaptive responses of animals when experiencing changing and limiting environments during their production cycle and over their lifetime, with a focus on nutritional challenges. Researches focuses on priorities between productive (lactation, reproduction, growth and survival) and non-productive (maintenance) functions and on characterizing trajectories of trade-offs between life functions over lifetime.PERAQ identifies productive, physiological, and metabolic indicators with a view to characterize the overall robustness of the animal. Such an assessment is to be used for phenotyping animals for selection purposes, and for improving farming practices.
  • To study how the diversity of individuals within a herd contributes to maintain the performances and the robustness of the herd when facing disturbances of diverse natures, intensities and durations. The ultimate goal is to identify, determine and elaborate farming practices that can increase animal and herd robustness.
  • To analyze, predict and evaluate the effects of farming practices and their combination or organization in time on the performance of animals and herds, and the overall quality of their products. PERAQtakes into account the interactions between genetics and technological processes. The overall quality of products is addressed by combining nutritional, sensorial, technological and sanitary aspects of milk and dairy products, carcass and meat, at animal and herd levels. The ultimate goal is to authenticate the conditions of production and to develop indicators and innovative tools for the prediction of product qualities.

The analytical methods developed within PERAQ are measurements of metabolic and hormonal patterns of animals (biochemistry, RIA), use of spectral methods (NIRS) and image analyses (echography), and determination of lipid composition of ruminant products. PERAQ also drives large data sets analyses (multivariate analyses and meta-analyses) and farm surveys to get new information on the studied topics. The investigations are conducted in short-term analytical experiments to study the physiological and metabolic responses of animals, long-term experiments to study animal adaptation throughout its lifespan, surveys to characterize farming practices and herd performances, and modelling to predict the responses of animals and herds. The evaluation of the overall product quality relies on participative and multicriterion approaches.

Dr Jean-François Hocquette

Dr Jean-François HOCQUETTE is a scientist at INRAE studying muscle biology, genomics and consumer expectations related to beef eating quality. He was leader of the research team “Muscle Growth and Metabolism” (1999-2006), and of the Herbivore Research Unit (172 staff, 2006-2010). He was member of the French High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education. He is working for the International Meat Research 3G Foundation and for the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP). He is Editor of the French Meat R&D journal and of several books. He was awarded by the French Meat Academy and received the 2014 Animal Growth and Development Award from ASAS. He will organize the World Congress of Animal Science in Lyon in 2023.

Isabelle Veissier (DVM, PhD, HDR)

Isabelle Veissier is a research director from INRAE. Her researches focus on animal behaviour and welfare. She worked on social behaviours, maternal behaviours, human-animal relationship, learning and emotional abilities, the assessment of animal welfare especially with a multicriteria approach, and sickness behaviour detected by PLF technologies. Isabelle played a key role in several large European projects (Welfare Quality®, EU-PLF). She published over 120 scientific articles in peered reviewed journals and supervised 13 PhD theses.

Sophie Prache

Sophie Prache is a research ingeneer from INRAE. Her researches focus on grassland-based farming systems and sheep meat quality and authentication. She worked on sheep and mixed beef cattle and sheep organic farming systems, the effects of farming practices on sheep meat quality and the authentication of grass-fed lamb meat. She recently co-supervised a collective scientific expertise (20 scientific experts) on the quality of animal-derived foods in Europe. She published over 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters and co-supervised 9 theses and supervised 2 post-doc. She has acted as an Associate Editor of the international journal Grass and Forage Science for 10 years.

Gonzalo Cantalapiedra-Hijar

Gonzalo Cantalapiedra-Hijar is a research scientist at INRAE since 2012 working on beef cattle nutrition and feed efficiency. His educational background includes a BSc in Veterinary Medicine (1997-2002; Spain and Belgium), a M.Sc and PhD on small ruminant nutrition (2005-2009; Spain) and a postdoctoral fellowship on dairy cattle nutrition and metabolism carried out in the Herbivore Research Unit at INRAE of Clermont-Ferrand-Theix (France; 2009-2012). His areas of expertise cover animal nitrogen metabolism in connection with animal feed efficiency, the evaluation of protein requirements in ruminants and development of several non-invasive methods to predict nitrogen partitioning and feed efficiency at the individual level. Lecturer for undergraduate students and supervisor/co-supervisor of PhD students and postdocs. Over 40 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters including the new updated INRA feeding system for ruminants. He belongs to the editorial board of Journal of Agricultural Science (2016) and PCI in Animal (2020).

SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College)

SRUC is a widely respected higher education institute dedicated to producing specialist research, delivering high quality education and providing comprehensive consultancy services in the rural sector within the UK and beyond. An organisation unique in Scotland and one of the largest organisations of its kind in Europe; we aim to lead the way in innovation and sustainable development in the agriculture and rural sectors at local, national and international levels. We have approximately 1300 members of staff working in over 50 locations across Scotland. A cornerstone of SRUC is our internationally respected research, which seeks to address the major challenges of growing global demand for food, climate change and dwindling natural resources. Drawing on this foundation of cutting edge research, much of SRUC’s emphasis is on knowledge transfer and exchange.  Working closely with both education and research SAC Consulting is a division of SRUC which delivers leading edge advice and consultancy to over 12,000 clients in Scotland and the North of England. Our consultancy services for farm and rural business include diversification, crops, livestock, business management, food and drink and veterinary services.

Professor Marie Haskell

Professor Marie Haskell has extensive experience of research into dairy cow behaviour and welfare with a particular focus on the effects of housing and management. Past projects have included assessing effects of continuous housing, organic farming and effects of genetic selection on behaviour. She has also carried out work into creating new welfare assessment measures, with a particular focus on animal behaviour, and in applying these to cattle, sheep and, more recently, to salmon. Additionally, Marie has been involved in studies that have characterised temperament or personality in cattle and dogs and the underlying genetics of personality and temperament. She is also interested in the cognitive abilities, emotional responses and personality of animals and how these abilities and attributes influence the welfare of the individual. Marie is Depute Team Leader of the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Team lectures on MSc courses at the University of Edinburgh, and BSc courses at SRUC, and supervises students at a range of levels.

Dr Carol-Anne Duthie

Dr Carol-Anne Duthie currently leads SRUC’s Beef and Sheep Research Centre. Her research expertise has focused on understanding and optimising the efficiency and sustainability of ruminant production systems. More recent work has focused on the development and application of Precision Livestock Farming solutions for continuous, automated and real-time monitoring of individual animal productivity, product quality, health, welfare and their environment. Her expertise also includes measuring greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant livestock and methane mitigation strategies. She has extensive experience of collaborating in multidisciplinary programmes of work engaging across both industry and academia. Lecturer for undergraduate students and supervisor/co-supervisor of PhD students. Over 40 peer-reviewed publications. She is a former chair of the British Society of Animal Science Strategy and Innovation Committee, current director of the Scottish Accreditation Board and review editor for Frontiers in Animal Science (Precision Livestock Farming).

Professor Rainer Roehe

Professor Rainer Roehe joined SRUC in 2004, having previously worked at the University of Kiel, Germany and University of Guelph, Canada. He is author of more than 100 referreed research papers and led research projects in a large variety of subjects from genetic studies of performance traits to animal welfare traits in all main farm species. Rainer has specialised in animal breeding and genomics using animal trials and cutting-edge bioinformatics to understand the genetic regulation of animal performances such as feed efficiency, meat quality and methane emissions. He is collaborating nationally and internationally in many projects based on his long-term experience in animal breeding and genomics. Current research in beef focuses on genetic improvement of feed efficiency, growth, meat quality and methane mitigation considering the host genetic and ruminal microbiome effects as well as their interaction. One of his main aims is to include both animal genomic and ruminal metagenomic information of economical important traits into practical breeding programmes

Dr Nicola Lambe
Dr Nicola Lambe has more than 20 years experience of working on sheep breeding research projects. She manages the work of the SRUC CT scanning unit and undertook her PhD (2005) based on CT scanning of breeding hill ewes to assess seasonal tissue changes. The sheep genetic projects that she has been involved in have been associated with breeding for improvements in carcass and meat quality, alongside traditional production and reproductive traits, and have considered both hill and terminal sire breeds. She has also been involved in similar projects with beef cattle and pigs. More recently, her research has been concerned with understanding and selecting for new traits in sheep, such as greenhouse gas emissions, feed efficiency and disease resistance.