Based in Dummerstorf, near Rostock, the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) operates as a public-law foundation. It is a member of the Leibniz Science Association and conducts basic and applied research into the biology of farm animals. FBN studies the functional biodiversity of livestock as a basis for domestication and as a key component of both sustainable agriculture and the food supply. The strategic importance of its research mandate arises primarily from the irreversible process of animal domestication and the role played by people in actively shaping it in order to respond to varying demands be they of economic, ecologic or social nature . Farm animals harbour great potential when it comes to meeting the growing global demand for quality foods of animal origin. Studies of the biodiversity of farm animals under changing husbandry and production conditions are therefore essential for their sustainable management, production and use. At the FBN, the diverse adaptation strategies developed by farm animals over the course of their evolution in order to cope with very similar conditions are investigated. These efforts are aimed at understanding the genetic and physiological aspects of functional biodiversity and at integrating the findings within sustainable breeding and husbandry methods.
Research on the functional biodiversity of farm animals is made possible by studying their vital processes using a holistic approach based on the traits expressed by the animals in specific environments. Interdisciplinary, coordinated research is the key to these studies. The introduction of programme budgets has produced a coherent, cross-sectoral research programme, consisting of four distinct programme areas, that advances the FBN’s systemic research approach. Of its 228 staff positions, 60 are held by scientists. A fluctuating number of additional positions are financed by third-party funding. The FBN lays great store in training young scientists. Some 26 FBN researchers also have teaching responsibilities and hold visiting professorships and lectureships at six different universities. Cooperation with science and industry at national and international levels is a key component of the research performed at the FBN. The institute is currently involved in 146 collaborations, with partners at 319 institutes in 45 countries.