Farewell to a great champion of international rural poultry development.

It is with great sadness that we advise of the passing of Emeritus Professor Peter Spradbrow AM, a founding figure of the Kyeema Foundation.

Condolences and tributes have come in from people working with village chickens all over the globe, recognising the immense contribution Peter made to improving rural livelihoods, particularly through his work on Newcastle disease.

Peter was a founding member of the Kyeema Foundation and the International Rural Poultry Centre (IRPC) and remained on the Board of Kyeema until December last year, when he felt it was time he retired. His contributions to Kyeema and the IRPC have been invaluable and will be greatly missed.

For the best part of his long and outstanding career in the University of Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science, Peter led research that resulted in the development of thermotolerant Newcastle disease vaccines. These vaccines, suitable for protecting village chickens where refrigeration is not available, continue to be a highly valued contribution to Australia’s aid and development program. 

Professor Spradbrow outside his laboratory at the University of Queensland, St Lucia campus. 

With support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter’s work went beyond the vaccines, resulting in a sustainable Newcastle disease control model that has helped to improve village poultry production in countries throughout Asia and Africa. This model continues to alleviate poverty for the most vulnerable people in resource-poor regions and serves as a platform for improving food security.

Peter had a vision for the local production of thermotolerant ND vaccines specifically for the village chicken/family poultry sector. With his guidance, this is now a reality in many countries across Asia and Africa. The I-2 Master seed he developed is still held at the University of Queensland and is made available to governments worldwide at no cost in order for developing countries to produce vaccines locally and disseminated through community driven programs.

Peter’s work and many contributions have been recognised by numerous awards, including, in 1995, the Clunies Ross Medal for Science and Technology, Member of the Order of Australia, the AIDAB Award for Excellence in Overseas Aid, the Kesteven Medal of the Australian Veterinary Association and the Australian Poultry Award in 2005.

Peter was an inspiration to many. Students and young veterinary professionals, including those now affiliated with Kyeema, will be forever grateful for the knowledge and wisdom he was so eager to impart to them. Many who experienced his tutelage and storytelling admire his gentle spirit, great wit and integrity.

As an organisation, we will strive to continue supporting local partnerships and use of local resources to improve the living standards of vulnerable communities with the same compassion and practicality he did.

We mourn his loss and recognise the great contribution he has made to empowering communities. Indeed, because of elders like him, we see the future as bright.

Read ‘Thermostable Vaccines in the Control of Newcastle Disease in Village Chickens: A History by Emeritus Professor P.B Spradbrow.’