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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


Speaking about the project, Dr Lisa Macintyre at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design said, “We’re aiming to produce something that’s up to this tough job, while improving animal welfare and the efficiency, safety and effectiveness of future research projects involving faeces collection. We also have a Scottish technical textile company, J&D Wilkie in Kirriemuir, who are interested in the commercial possibilities of the product and who are going to help with prototype production. ”

Speaking about the need for the product Drs Fiona Kenyon and Sarah Thomson of the Moredun Research Institute said, “The development of a new harness for faecal collection in cattle will dramatically improve our day-to-day work, allowing us to collect these samples in a much cleaner and more efficient manner.”

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Printed from on 16/08/17 02:03:00 PM

Moredun is committed to promoting animal health and welfare through research and education and is recognized worldwide for its contribution to research into infectious diseases of farmed livestock.