R&D

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AHDB BEEF & LAMB

R&D

REVIEW

2016/17

beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk


Introduction

Welcome to the second edition 1

Completed Projects

What we learnt about mastitis in ewes 2

How to deal with Cryptosporidiosis 3

Understanding digital dermatitis in beef cattle 3

Maximising forage in ewe diets 4

How much protein should be fed to ewes in late

pregnancy and during lactation? 4

The role of nutrition during pregnancy on heifer

lifetime productivity 5

High confidence in grass and clover lists even at lower

nitrogen levels 6

What is the impact of ration type and feed additives

on methane output? 7

Improving the National Methane Inventory 7

Enhancements to the genetic evaluation of Stabiliser cattle 8

Inbreeding tools for sheep and beef producers 8

Lifetime growth patterns in beef cattle 9

Straw pads for beef cattle 10

Identification and mitigation of environmental impacts of

outwintering cattle on grassland sacrifice areas 11

Current Projects

Novel ways of detecting sheep with ovine

pulmonary adenocarcinoma 12

Unravelling the aetiology of contagious ovine digital dermatitis 12

Sustainable control of parasites 13

Animal Health Research Club 13

Updating metabolisable energy requirements for sheep 14

Feeding the ewe 14

Developing grazing systems for beef producers 15

Reviewing beef nutritional standards 15

What is SARIC? 16

Integrating beef into arable rotations 16

Evaluating the performance, health and welfare of beef

cattle on a range of larger finishing units in England 17

Validating key performance indicators 17

Beef Feed Efficiency Programme 18

RamCompare – Abattoir activity 19

Combined Breed Analysis for terminal rams 19

Online tool for Recommended Grass and Clover Lists 20

Developing beef expertise 20

Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock 21

Livestock industry data exchange hub 21

Other Current Projects 22

Studentships 23

R&D Process 24

Contact the Team 25

© Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board 2016.

All rights reserved.

While the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board seeks to

ensure that the information contained within this document is accurate

at the time of printing, no warranty is given in respect thereof and, to

the maximum extent permitted by law the Agriculture & Horticulture

Development Board accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury

howsoever caused (including that caused by negligence) or suffered

directly or indirectly in relation to information and opinions contained

in or omitted from this document.

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Development Board copyright and the document title specified. Where

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copyright holder must be sought.

This publication is available from our website at beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk

Any enquiries related to this publication should be sent to us at

AHDB Beef & Lamb, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2TL.

AHDB Beef & Lamb is part of the Agriculture and Horticulture

Development Board.

Photo acknowledgements: Moredun, Liverpool University, South Devon Society,

ADAS Ltd, IBERS, University of Warwick, Kate Phillips


WELCOME TO THE SECOND

EDITION OF THE AHDB

BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW

This report provides a summary of the research that the organisation is carrying out on behalf of levy

payers and includes key findings of completed projects and updates on ongoing research.

AHDB Beef & Lamb funds around 25 research

projects a year covering five key areas: health

and welfare, nutrition, genetics, meat quality

and sustainable systems of production.

The cost of the research ranges from £250 to

£250,000 and practical outcomes that the industry

can adopt are the main aim of the work the

organisation funds. However, some underpinning

research is also funded and a committee made up of

board members is tasked with agreeing all the new

projects to be undertaken.

transfer so that industry can reap the full benefits of

the research being carried out.

I hope you enjoy reading about the work AHDB Beef

& Lamb is doing for the industry, but this is by no

means everything. For information on all the activity

we are carrying out and for resources based on

some of our previous research, have a look online at

beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk

Adam Quinney

AHDB Beef & Lamb sector chair

AHDB Beef & Lamb’s funding of PhD studentships

has also proved incredibly important again in the

past year, with high quality research being carried

out at the same time as training new people ready

to enter the industry.

It is an interesting time in agricultural research as

we begin to see the influence of the Centre for

Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), which

came into being at the beginning of 2016. There is

a move towards a knowledge partnership approach

that involves integrating research and knowledge

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW INTRODUCTION | 1


HEALTH AND WELFARE

WHAT WE LEARNT ABOUT MASTITIS IN EWES

A research project conducted by the University

of Warwick spanning two breeding seasons has

highlighted the importance of knowing a flock’s

udder health status. The project findings will

help inform producers’ culling decisions and raise

awareness of the conditions that cause udder

lumps to develop.

Udder lumps are abscesses, formed by bacteria, which can

rupture, disperse and reform as another abscess elsewhere

in the udder. Acute mastitis, infection from another ewe,

traumatic teat lesions and feeding insufficient energy in

lactation were all found to be leading causes.

During the study, the udders of nearly 5,000 pedigree and

commercial ewes were scored over two breeding seasons,

a total of four times – four weeks before lambing and nine

weeks after giving birth – over two consecutive years.

Researchers looked at each ewe’s teat position, teat angle

and udder drop, and udders were also examined for lumps.

The findings showed that acute mastitis was more likely in

ewes that had:

• Poor udder conformation

• Teat lesions

• Received inadequate nutrition in pregnancy

• Fed twins or triplets.

Results also showed that older ewes were more prone

to acute mastitis. Ewes that had acute mastitis were

significantly more likely to have a lump in the udder when

examined later in the same lactation.

The research found that, once first detected, udder lumps

were not always present on subsequent examinations but,

if a ewe had a lump in her udder at an examination, she was

more likely to have a lump in the future than ewes that had

not displayed any symptoms. In addition, the higher the

percentage of ewes in a flock with lumps during pregnancy,

the higher the number of ewes with lumps in lactation,

suggesting that the infection is passed within the flock.

The udder conformation of the majority of ewes in the

study was very good for suckling lambs and for maintaining

udder health, preventing teat lesions, udder lumps and

mastitis. Udders with big or extremely positioned teats and

droopy udders were linked to an increase in teat lesions,

udder lumps, acute mastitis or slower growing lambs. This

occurred more in older ewes, so these observations could

help inform culling decisions.

The project highlights the continued need for udder

conformation to be part of the consideration when making

culling decisions. It also highlights the fact that mastitis is a

flock disease rather than just an individual’s disease, so the

next steps are to look at reducing transmission within

a flock.

NEXT STEPS

Louise Whatford is an AHDB Beef & Lamb funded PhD

student at Warwick University and will be investigating ways

of reducing cases of mastitis, for example, through improved

hygiene or feeding. She will be attending shows and events

in the next few years to explain her work. A BRP+ document

Understanding Mastitis in Sheep, based on the research

project, is available at beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk


HEALTH AND WELFARE

HOW TO DEAL WITH CRYPTOSPORIDIOSIS

Cryptosporidiosis is one of the most common

causes of calf scour in the UK. It is caused by a

parasite called Cryptosporidium and is usually

seen in young calves less than six weeks old.

Calves become infected with Cryptosporidium

when they ingest the parasite’s eggs, which reside

in the environment in bedding, pasture, soil and

drinking water.

This PhD, undertaken at the Moredun Research Institute,

aimed to determine the type of Cryptosporidium found in

calves in the UK and assess the role that adult cattle play in

the transmission of the parasite.

The study found that in calves less than nine weeks

old, the most common species of Cryptosporidium was

Cryptosporidium parvum (C. parvum), with all the affected

calves being infected within the first two weeks of life.

Clinical signs, including severe diarrhoea, tended to occur

in calves less than four weeks of age and by six to seven

weeks of age many of the infected animals showed no

signs of infection, even though they were still shedding

Cryptosporidium eggs. This suggests that the mixing

of calves of different age groups should be avoided to

prevent the older calves infecting the younger ones.

Adult cattle were also found to be shedding

Cryptosporidium intermittently. C. parvum was found

to be the most predominant species being shed and

highlights that adult cattle have the potential to be

an important source of infection for other susceptible

hosts such as calves. However, one study found adult

cattle shedding different subtypes of C. parvum to the

ones affecting calves, suggesting that they may not be

the source of infection. It was concluded that the lack

of symptoms seen in older calves and adult cattle when

carrying the disease was related to their age rather than

the development of immunity due to prior infection.

NEXT STEPS

Due to the success of this work, another studentship

has been funded by AHDB Beef & Lamb, at the Moredun

Research Institute, which will look at how transmission

of Cryptosporidium to young calves can be reduced and

determine the economic impact of the disease on the

long-term health and performance of beef calves.

UNDERSTANDING DIGITAL DERMATITIS

IN BEEF CATTLE

Digital dermatitis (DD) is an infectious condition

of the foot. The disease can be painful and causes

severe lameness in infected animals.

Bovine digital dermatitis (DD) in dairy cattle has now been

reported in most countries where they are farmed, and

DD in sheep, known as contagious ovine digital dermatitis

(CODD), is rapidly emerging. The primary causative agent

for DD is thought to be the bacteria, treponemes, with

large quantities being found in DD lesions.

Over the past 40 years, research has focused on DD in

dairy cattle with very little information being available

regarding the signs, prevalence and treatment of DD in

beef cattle. Therefore, AHDB Beef & Lamb funded a PhD at

Liverpool University to investigate the cause, transmission

and carriage sites of the disease in beef cattle.

The same treponeme bacteria responsible for DD in

dairy cattle were also found to be responsible for DD in

beef and sheep. This highlights potential problems with

cross-species contamination, particularly on livestock

farms where both cattle and sheep are farmed together.

The study also investigated possible routes of transmission

for the disease, finding live DD treponeme bacteria in the

gastrointestinal tract of sheep. This suggests that a small

number of cattle and sheep could act as reservoirs for the

disease; these animals would not necessarily show any

symptoms but would be spreading the treponeme bacteria

into the environment through their faeces.

Hoof trimming equipment was found to be an important

transmission route for the disease. This equipment often

comes into direct contact with the body part infected with

the bacteria and, therefore, contamination is likely. This

highlights the importance of disinfection and hygiene

practices on farm.

NEXT STEPS

Ten research papers have been produced as part of this PhD,

which means the information will be picked up by other

researchers and advisers.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW COMPLETED PROJECTS | 3


NUTRITION

MAXIMISING FORAGE IN EWE DIETS

Many producers are starting to harvest new

conserved forages for ewe diets and have

questions about how to feed it, the quantities

ewes are able to eat and any impacts this may

have on ewe or lamb performance.

The recommended amount of forage a ewe will eat is based

on the Agriculture and Food Research Council (AFRC 1993)

data and many producers and advisers report that ewes

are able to eat more than the quoted amounts of 1.5-2%

of bodyweight in late pregnancy. If quantities are higher,

the amount of supplementary feeding required should be

lower, which could reduce feed costs.

A project was conducted at Harper Adams University (HAU)

to investigate the use of alternative conserved forages in

the diets of ewes in late pregnancy and early lactation. The

conserved forages tested were red clover silage, lucerne

silage and untreated wholecrop wheat (UWCW), with grass

silage used as a control.

Forty eight twin-bearing ewes were allocated a conserved

forage treatment (four treatments with 12 ewes in each

trial) and placed in individual pens eight weeks before

lambing until four weeks post-lambing. They were fed

individually so that accurate intake data could be collected

and the range between ewes could be identified. All ewes

were body condition scored and weighed at the start of

the project, weekly to lambing, 12 hours post-lambing,

four weeks post-lambing (turnout), at eight weeks and at

weaning. Lambs were weighed at birth, four weeks of age

(turnout), at eight weeks and at weaning. Colostrum quality

was assessed and the incidence of disease and deaths were

recorded. From turnout, the lambs were creep fed.

Supplementation was provided to make sure the diets

matched energy and protein requirements (AFRC 1993).

During the trial, problems were identified with UWCW as

five ewes lost 0.5 body condition score (BCS) in two weeks.

To halt the weight loss, it was mixed with grass silage. The

red clover-based diet was also adjusted as blood tests

showed that ewes were low in energy.

The results from late pregnancy (see Table 1) shows the

variation in intakes between the treatments. Overall, the

work has found that intakes in late pregnancy are not

decreasing as much as thought and lactation intakes can

be as high as 4% of bodyweight (current figure is 3%).

Table 1: Average intakes of the forage treatments during

late pregnancy

Diet

Silage intake (kg

fresh weight per ewe)

Grass silage 4.30

Lucerne silage 4.77

Red clover silage 5.00

UWCW/grass silage 3.74

Overall, the ewes in the red clover group had higher BCS

at lambing with corresponding higher lamb performance

from birth to four weeks.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD BE FED TO EWES

IN LATE PREGNANCY AND DURING LACTATION?

The main message from the work funded at

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Harper Adams

University (HAU) over the last three years is that

the recommended metabolisable protein (MP)

requirements of ewes during late pregnancy or

lactation are still correct.

However, ewes benefit from additional protein

supplementation if they are below target for body

condition as they will have less body reserves to buffer

short-term inadequate nutrition. The work has also shown

that there is some advantage to feeding higher levels of

protein if the ewes are experiencing a worm challenge. This

makes sense as they will have a higher protein requirement

because they will be mounting an immune response.

NEXT STEPS

The results from both projects will be incorporated into

the revised Feeding the Ewe manual and into ewe nutrition

workshops. The researchers from HAU will present at the

NSA Sheep Event and R&D Workshop in September to discuss

the various sheep nutrition projects.

4 | COMPLETED PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


NUTRITION

THE ROLE OF NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY

ON HEIFER LIFETIME PRODUCTIVITY

It is now recognised that nutrition during

pregnancy can have long-term consequences,

not only on the dam but on her progeny as well.

This study focused on the role of nutrition

around conception and its consequences on

ease of calving and the lifetime productivity of

beef heifers.

The four-year project undertaken by the University of

Nottingham investigated the effect of protein level prior

to mating and during the first trimester of pregnancy on

a variety of performance, fertility and metabolic traits of

heifer progeny.

Results have shown that the diets altered blood flow to

the foetus and growth of the calf. Increasing protein in

the diet (18 vs 10% crude protein) prior to conception had

no effect on birthweight. However, those heifers fed the

low-protein diet showed faster rates of growth during mid

and late pregnancy than heifers fed the high-protein ration

before the breeding period (see Figure 1). This performance

advantage was associated with an increase of one body

condition score (BCS) and significantly increased calf

birthweight and calving difficulties.

Figure 1: The average daily gain for the heifers being fed low or high

levels of protein

ADG (kg/day)

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

-0.5

-3

High

Low

-2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 precalv

Month relative to conception (AI)

A similar effect has been shown by the same research

team in a larger study in Australia, where increased protein

mid-gestation increased birthweight by 8% (3kg).

Additionally, the project also showed that, where heifers

were fed straw in the run-up to calving, body condition

reduced during the last trimester of pregnancy. Those

heifers that experienced significant BCS loss during this

time exhibited low levels of the hormones leptin and

progesterone (see Figure 2), which are required to enable

the cow to restart cycling post-calving. This resulted in

extended post-partum intervals and a delay in conceiving to

the subsequent pregnancy.

Figure 2: The change in progesterone levels in the heifers being fed

low or high levels of protein

P4 ng/ml

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

Calving

High

Low

1pp 2pp 3pp 4pp 5pp

Month relative to calving

During the course of the study, detailed measurements

were taken of the progeny of the heifers exposed to the

different dietary treatments, including their fertility when

any heifers were kept as replacements. This data will

provide valuable information on the longer-term effects of

dietary composition for breeding females.

A separate study investigated the effect of dietary crude

protein (CP) on follicular development in maiden heifers.

A high (14.5% CP) or low (10% CP) protein diet was fed

to yearling Angus heifers 60 days prior to examination of

the ovaries. Significant effects on ovary productivity were

recorded, with the high-protein diet increasing the number

of antral follicles in the ovary and also the concentration

of circulating progesterone. Progesterone is essential to

the reduction of early embryonic loss, which can be an

important cause of poor fertility.

NEXT STEPS

A number of articles and on-farm events have already

been delivered to the industry as part of this project and

more are planned.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW COMPLETED PROJECTS | 5


SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION

HIGH CONFIDENCE IN GRASS AND CLOVER LISTS

EVEN AT LOWER NITROGEN LEVELS

The Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL)

provide technical guidance that allows grassland

producers to make informed decisions on grass

and clover varieties during reseeding.

This enables the selection of grass and clover varieties

that are most suited to English production systems.

However, a weakness in this evaluation system is the

difference in management techniques between trials and

those implemented at farm level. Given the contrasting

management techniques, a recent study funded by AHDB

and carried out by NIAB TAG considered the effect of lowinput

nitrogen (N) application levels on perennial ryegrass,

timothy, cocksfoot and mixed clover swards. The aim of this

trial was to assess the reliability of using recommendations

obtained through current trial procedures, which

subsequently act as a guideline at farm level.

To explore the genetic potential of the top grass varieties,

they are tested under high-nutrient inputs (400kg N/ha).

However, in recent years, N fertiliser rates to grassland in

England and Wales have fallen from an average of 150kg

N/ha in 1990 to 60kg N/ha in 2014. With these falling N

fertiliser rates on farm, it is important to understand how

the grasses are performing under low N conditions.

Over a three-year period, six perennial ryegrass varieties

(three tetraploids, three diploids) were managed under three

rates of N application, 400, 200 and 100kg N/ha, and tested

under both cutting and simulated grazing management.

Throughout the study, there was no significant difference

in the ranking of varieties for yield or quality, suggesting

that those varieties which perform better at high-N levels

also perform the best under reduced N conditions (Table

2). This provides confidence that the RGCL can be used in

lower N situations.

This study also highlighted there is plenty of scope to get

more from strategic fertiliser use. In the trial, each additional

kg of N fertiliser applied resulted in an additional 23.5kg

dry matter (DM)/ha of grass. This presented a good return

on investment, with the relative feed value of this grass

(£3.22 at £0.137/kg DM) five times the cost of the N fertiliser

applied (£0.61/kg).

In addition, with higher rates of N application, persistency

of grasses improved and there was a lower weed burden in

these plots. Under simulated grazing, dry matter percentage

values also rose with increasing N application rate.

The results showed that at low levels of N, timothy

outyielded perennial ryegrass, so it should be considered

when producers are sowing mixtures where low levels of N

are going to be used.

Table 2: Perennial ryegrass varieties ranked according to total annual

silage yield under varying applications of nitrogen

Rank

Nitrogen fertilisation regime (kg N/ha)

100 200 400

1 Seagoe (T) Seagoe (T) Seagoe (T)

2 Aubisque (T) Aubisque (T) Aubisque (T)

3 Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo

4 Premium AberGreen AberGreen

5 AberGreen Premium Premium

6 Montova (T) Montova (T) Montova (T)

(T) = tetraploid cultivar

With clover becoming an increasingly important source of

N on farm, the study also trialled different grass species

with white clover to find the most suitable companion

grass. At under 200kg N, clover still accounted for 29 to

53% of annual DM yield. The growth habits of different

grass species appear to dictate clover patterns and, when

established with late heading timothy, clover contribution

was highest (Table 3).

Table 3: Impact of companion grass on white clover yield and

contribution under silage management

Companion

grass

Grass and

clover yield

(t DM/ha)

Clover yield

(t DM/ha)

Clover

contribution

(%)

Cocksfoot 13.9 4.0 29

Perennial

ryegrass

(diploid)

Perennial

ryegrass

(tetraploid)

13.9 5.9 42

13.9 6.4 46

Timothy 13.8 7.4 53

NEXT STEPS

A number of articles and events have already been delivered

to the industry as part of this project and more are planned.

An AHDB Grass Research Day was held at NIAB Headley

Hall in June 2016 and the resources can be found at

beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk

6 | COMPLETED PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF RATION TYPE AND FEED

ADDITIVES ON METHANE OUTPUT BY FINISHING CATTLE?

Methane emissions from livestock account for

39% of the emissions from livestock supply chains.

Nutrition provides one of the routes by which this can

be controlled. A project led by Scotland’s Rural College

(SRUC) and involving the Universities of Aberdeen and

Bristol has recently completed work to better understand

the long-term effects of two commercially available

additives on methane emissions, cattle performance and

meat quality when fed with different finishing rations to a

range of cattle breeds (see Table 4).

Table 4: The additives and rations used in the project

Additives

Finishing

rations

1. Nitrates (calcium nitrate)

2. Oils (rapeseed cake or maize distillers grains)

1. Forage-based ration – 50-58% DM as grass silage

and barley wholecrop silage

2. Concentrate-based ration – 74% DM rolled barley

Cattle were introduced to the experimental diets over a

four-week adaption phase when the amount of additive was

gradually increased to the required level.

Cattle on the study achieved growth rates ranging between

1.2-1.8kg per day with no adverse effects from the additives,

except in one instance where adding nitrate caused a slight

reduction in daily liveweight gain (DLWG). On average,

methane emissions were 37% lower (232 vs 145g per day)

when animals were fed the concentrate-based ration,

compared to the mixed forage-based ration and this effect

was maintained, regardless of cattle breed.

Both additives inhibited methane production, with the

forage-based diet, however, they had no effect on the

concentrate ration.

Figure 3: Effect of ration types and different additives on methane

output from finishing beef cattle (g/kg dry matter intake)

Methane output (g/kgDM intake)

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

No additive

Nitrate Oil No additive Nitrate Oil

Forage based ration#

Concentrate based ration*

# = wholecrop barley silage, grass silage, rolled barley, rapeseed meal, molasses, minerals

* = rolled barley, straw, rapeseed meal, molasses, minerals

In both studies, nitrate had the largest effect, reducing

emissions by 9 to 17%, compared with 4 to 7.5% for oil

supplementation, but nitrate had inconsistent effects on

DLWG, which means that in some instances it impacted on

performance. Notably, the additives had a much smaller

effect on methane emissions than the basal ration type.

Without a financial incentive to reduce methane emissions,

the advice to producers from this work is that adding nitrate

to rations is not recommended. Feeding high-oil feedstuffs

in finishing cattle diets to reduce methane emissions can be

recommended, provided its use is economically competitive

and excessive oil levels (>6% in DM) in the diet are avoided.

IMPROVING THE NATIONAL METHANE INVENTORY

This project was part of Defra’s Agricultural

Greenhouse Gas R&D Platform.

Focusing on cattle and sheep, its objective was to deliver

a set of emission factors for methane from different

livestock species, breeds and genotypes under a range of

farm systems. These factors can be used in a new inventory

to allow UK government to track the effects of changes in

agricultural practices on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

and for reporting to the United Nations under the UK’s

commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

A series of experiments were undertaken to fill knowledge

gaps. Data demonstrated that feed intake is a major driver

of methane emissions from both cattle and sheep across

a broad range of diet types and productive states. Diet is

also influential, with concentrate-based diets producing less

methane than forage-based diets.

AHDB staff were members of the advisory board to

ensure the work was representative of English production

systems. The outputs will be incorporated into a range

of knowledge exchange activities, where the factors

influencing GHG emissions are considered alongside

commercial business drivers.

Further details of this project and others in the GHG

platform can be found at ghgplatform.org.uk

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW COMPLETED PROJECTS | 7


GENETICS

ENHANCEMENTS TO THE GENETIC EVALUATION

OF STABILISER CATTLE

Estimated breeding values (EBVs) are calculated

using knowledge of the heritability of different

traits (the degree to which variation between

animals is influenced by their genes) and the

genetic relationships between these traits.

Periodically, these genetic parameters are reviewed to

ensure they are appropriate for the breed being analysed.

AHDB Beef & Lamb through Signet has funded EGENES

at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), to review the genetic

parameters used in the statistical model for Stabiliser cattle.

The heritability of a trait indicates the proportion of the

variation between animals that can be explained by their

genes. It is the degree to which an animal’s appearance is

influenced by its genes.

If a growth trait has a heritability of 0.3, then 30% of the

liveweight variation between animals would be due to

genetic differences between them and 70% would be due

to environmental influences.

Health and reproduction traits tend to have a low heritability

but this doesn’t mean they are not worth assessing; even a

small change in these traits can be highly profitable.

The EBVs for Stabiliser cattle will change as a result of

this new information. The latest EBVs will provide a more

accurate and robust prediction of genetic merit, as well as

highlighting areas of genetic improvement within the breed

that were previously underestimated.

These enhancements will help breeders and commercial bull

buyers to make better breeding decisions for economically

important traits in the Stabiliser breed.

Table 5: New heritability values for Stabiliser cattle in the UK

Trait

Heritability

Birth Weight EBV 0.29

200 Day Weight EBV 0.21

400 Day Weight EBV 0.45

Fat Depth EBV 0.47

Muscle Depth EBV 0.47

Gestation Length EBV 0.29

Calving Ease EBV 0.11

Maternal Calving Ease EBV 0.01

200 Day Milk EBV 0.09

Calving Interval EBV 0.04

Age at First Calving EBV 0.34

Lifespan EBV 0.16

Mature Cow Weight EBV 0.36

Body Condition Score EBV 0.28

INBREEDING TOOLS FOR SHEEP AND BEEF PRODUCERS

Inbreeding is the consequence of mating two

genetically related animals.

To a degree, this is inevitable within any long-term selection

programme involving a closed population. Inbreeding tends

to increase the number of recessive or harmful genes being

expressed, leading to a reduction in fitness and productivity.

The level of inbreeding is calculated as the probability of two

alleles being identical by descent.

Typical inbreeding percentages, assuming no previous

inbreeding between parents, are:

• Father/daughter, mother/son or brother/sister = 25%

• Grandfather/granddaughter or grandmother/

grandson = 12.5%

• Half-brother/half-sister = 12.5%

• Uncle/niece or aunt/nephew = 12.5%

• Great-grandfather/great-granddaughter or greatgrandmother/great-grandson

= 6.25%.

AHDB Beef & Lamb is keen to help breeders assess the level

of inbreeding within their herds and flocks. Inbreeding values

for individual sheep are already published online and new

online software is available at basco.org, to help reduce the

risk of inbreeding.

Breeders can now measure the level of inbreeding within

their flock and predict levels of inbreeding in future matings.

The availability of this information will enable breeders to

make more informed breeding decisions, make better use

of homebred genetics and make faster rates of genetic

gain in traits of economic importance. Using the software,

breeders can create mating lists and export these to Excel,

text or PDF formats.

More information on this tool is available by contacting

stephen.west@ahdb.org.uk. This software is already

available for sheep breeders and is expected to be launched

for beef breeders soon.

8 | COMPLETED PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


MEAT QUALITY

LIFETIME GROWTH PATTERN IN BEEF CATTLE

Improving growth rate and reducing the time

taken to get beef cattle ready for slaughter is

an important component of profitability. It is

also one of the means by which producers can

reduce their greenhouse gas emissions per kg

of beef produced.

Nevertheless, a considerable proportion of prime cattle

are slaughtered over 30 months of age and there is

concern that these animals produce tougher meat. The

Quality Standard Mark standards include restrictions on

animal age at slaughter. This project was undertaken to

establish the validity of the age threshold of 30 months for

quality beef specifications.

The project, carried out at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC),

finished steers and heifers at a wide range of ages between

12 and 36 months according to alternative lifetime growth

patterns, which included a period of growth check for the

older animals, using typical production systems used on

farm in England.

Table 6: The results for the gristle parameters, shear force and

sensory panel results for the three different groups

Growth path

Long Medium Short

Gristle weight (g) 40.2 31.5 25.8

Gristle (% of joint) 0.46 0.37 0.37

Gristle (% of loin) 1.96 1.62 1.63

Shear force toughness (kg) 11.9 10.4 10.8

Sensory panel results

Toughness 46.9 42.5 38.7

Juiciness 54.1 53.4 51.5

Beef 46.6 47.2 44.4

Abnormal 19.7 20.6 23.7

Figure 4: Dissected gristle from loin for weighing

Data was gathered on the overall productive output, and

carcase quality and meat eating quality assessments were

carried out. The older animals that had been subject to

a growth check and hence, longer growth period, had

increased gristle as a proportion of the loin joint weight.

Shear force results have shown that these animals also

produced tougher muscle (shown by higher shear force).

The sensory panel results suggest that the animals on the

short finishing treatment were significantly less tough than

the animals from the other treatments. However, there was

also slightly lower beef flavour and higher abnormal flavour

values, (see Table 6).

NEXT STEPS

The outcomes of this project will inform the future

development of specifications for meat quality, including

within AHDB Beef & Lamb’s Quality Standard Mark scheme,

and will be incorporated into advice for producers on

finishing beef cattle.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW COMPLETED PROJECTS | 9


SYSTEMS

STRAW PADS FOR BEEF CATTLE

A straw pad is an open, deep-bedded enclosure for

‘housing’ livestock. The majority of straw pads are

unlined and the principle of the system is that the

depth of bedding provides sufficient absorptive

capacity to retain the dung and urine generated by

the animals, and rainfall over the pad area.

However, there is concern about the potential for water

pollution from uncontained runoff or drainage to surface

and ground water from unlined pads. This study aimed to

evaluate key aspects of the design criteria for straw-bedded

corrals to ensure satisfactory livestock performance and

environmental protection.

Detailed information was collected, by ADAS, from nine

farms located in England that used straw pads to house

cattle over winter. All of the farms answered positively when

asked about the health of the cattle kept on the pads, with

the majority of farms stating that the cattle were as clean

outside on the pads as they would have been in a roofed

straw yard. None of the farms reported any foot problems

or lameness associated with this housing type and five

farms gave the opinion that cattle kept on straw pads were

healthier, due to a reduced risk of bovine respiratory disease.

The water holding capacity of different bedding material

was determined in a laboratory experiment. A range of

bedding material was tested as shown in Table 7. Barley

straw demonstrated the highest water holding capacity,

being able to absorb approximately four-and-a-half times its

own weight in water. In contrast, waste wood shavings were

only able to absorb their own weight in water.

The study found that nitrate-N and ammonia-N

concentrations in drainage water from straw pads were very

high, indicating that any effluent draining into the soil from

these pads represented a high risk of diffuse N pollution.

Drainage occurred mainly following a period of heavy

rainfall. This highlights the importance of applying sufficient

bedding early in the season to provide capacity to absorb

effluent, following a short period of heavy rainfall.

Table 7: Water holding capacity of straw pad bedding material

Bedding

Waste wood

shavings

Oilseed rape

straw

Initial dry

matter (%)

End dry

matter (%)

Water holding

capacity (% of

holding weight)

56 27 108

84 21 301

Barley straw 87 16 458

NEXT STEPS

Based on the findings of this work, a BRP+ document titled

Guidelines for Managing Outdoor Straw Pads for Beef Cattle

has been produced. This document details recommendations

for straw-bedded pad design and management and is

available on the AHDB Beef & Lamb website.

10 | COMPLETED PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


SYSTEMS

IDENTIFICATION AND MITIGATION

OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF OUTWINTERING

CATTLE ON GRASSLAND SACRIFICE AREAS

Outwintering cattle offers a number of economic

benefits compared to housing over the winter

months and, if the farm is within a nitrate

vulnerable zone (NVZ), offers an alternative to

investing in slurry storage facilities. However,

outwintering could potentially have negative

consequences, mainly in terms of air and water

pollution, but also soil erosion, animal health and

welfare and public safety.

This project was led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and

the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Science

(IBERS). Its aims were to:

• Investigate the use of grass sacrifice fields

• Explore options for mitigating negative environmental

effects of outwintering

• Hold producer workshops to gain an insight into

management and perceptions of sacrifice fields

• Develop an understanding of the limits to adoption by

producers of pollution mitigation practices.

This study has shown that outwintering beef and dairy cows

can lead to significant levels of pollution by ammonium,

phosphorus and other particulate contaminants. Such

pollution arises due to rapid transport of components of

deposited excreta to drains in saturated soil during or after

rainfall.

Therefore, sacrificing an area of land for outwintering

cattle requires planning and management to minimise the

environmental damage.

Producer interaction was a key part of this project and a

range of best management practices and recommendations

were identified from this work and tested with producers in

a series of workshops to assess their likelihood of adoption:

1. Provision of visual soil assessment aids: Soil types

are critically important in affecting the level of damage

within a sacrifice area.

2. Visual poaching assessment aids: A method was

developed and tested to objectively measure the

amount of poaching within a particular area.

3. Drainage management: Outwintering should not take

place in any field which is subject to frequent ponding

or surface run-off due to the inadequacy or degradation

of the tile drainage system.

4. Potential for rainfall collection and monitoring:

Investment in both collecting equipment and provision

of ‘ready-reckoner’ type cards or software may be

beneficial to controlling pollution in a sacrifice area.

5. Use of line feeding and bale feeders: No

environmental benefit was found from moving feeders

to different locations periodically over the winter.

6. Post-treatment of the field: The highest risk period

emerges in the four months after sacrifice (1 April – 31

July) and nutrient losses are minimised if producers

reseed rather than natural regeneration.

NEXT STEPS

Messages from this study have been incorporated into

AHDB Beef & Lamb guidance for outwintering of cattle

and continue to be communicated to industry in line

with other advice regarding grazing management and

outwintering options.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW COMPLETED PROJECTS | 11


HEALTH AND WELFARE

NOVEL WAYS OF DETECTING SHEEP

WITH OVINE PULMONARY ADENOCARCINOMA

Ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma (OPA) is

an infectious lung tumour of sheep caused by

Jaagsiekte Sheep Retrovirus (JSRV).

There is no treatment or vaccine and, once clinical signs

appear, the disease is invariably fatal. Affected flocks may

lose as many as 20% of stock in the first couple of years that

OPA is present, and the disease may continue to account for

the loss of a few per cent of sheep every year for many years

thereafter. The disease appears to be increasingly common

throughout the UK and a means of ascertaining flock

status is a recognised need. Ideally, producers should be

able to identify if the infection is present in their flock and

then work with their vet to minimise losses. Perhaps more

importantly, the 70-90% of flocks that are estimated to

be free of the disease can only maintain this status by

being able to buy replacement breeding stock from other

OPA-free flocks. An OPA flock test based on testing thin

ewes could facilitate an appropriate assurance scheme.

Nasal swabs are being collected from thin ewes from

infected and clean flocks to see whether swabs can be used

to detect the presence of JRSV. Some of the cull ewes will be

purchased and post-mortem examinations will be conducted

to determine OPA status. The performance of the novel test

will be evaluated and all the results will be communicated

back to the producers, vets, consultants and advisers.

UNRAVELLING THE AETIOLOGY OF

CONTAGIOUS OVINE DIGITAL DERMATITIS

The Farm Animal Welfare Council has challenged

the sheep industry to reduce lameness prevalence

to less than 5% by 2016 and 2% by 2021.

Until recently, research efforts have been focused on

the control of one major cause of lameness, footrot.

Consequently, most of the current evidence-based

veterinary medicine lameness control advice is for footrot.

The emergence of contagious ovine digital dermatitis

(CODD) as a major cause of lameness in the UK is a new

and important challenge. 35% to 53% of farms in England

and Wales report having CODD. There is little current

evidence-based advice available for CODD control, which

impacts on lameness control.

The project will be undertaken at Liverpool University,

and will aim to determine differences in the bacterial

microbiome of feet between CODD infected and healthy

sheep and to see how this changes over time.

It will involve a group of store lambs being sourced from

a farm with no history of CODD. Four lambs with CODD

lesions will be introduced to the group and the lambs will

be monitored daily for clinical signs of CODD. All feet will

be swabbed weekly for microbiological assessment and the

lambs will be blood sampled monthly for immunological

testing. The lambs will be treated with antibiotics and foot

and bacteriological monitoring will continue to look at the

impact of treatment.

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HEALTH AND WELFARE

SUSTAINABLE CONTROL OF PARASITES

A number of postgraduate students are currently

targeting their research on developing better

tools to control parasite infections.

Close links with industry initiatives (SCOPS and COWS) will

ensure that the outputs of this work are communicated

effectively to a range of industry stakeholders, including

vets, suitably qualified persons (SQPs) and producers.

Diagnosis of fluke infective stage in the environment –

Moredun Research Institute

This project will investigate possible methods for detecting

liver and rumen fluke metacercarial cysts on pasture, which

could then be developed in the future for use in practical

field tests. These tests could help producers pinpoint those

fields or areas of fields with a viable fluke burden and

prevent stock from grazing those areas at high-risk times.

Development of a pen-side diagnostic test for liver fluke

infection in cattle and sheep – University of Liverpool

This project aims to produce a fast and simple way for

producers to diagnose liver fluke infection in individual

cattle and sheep via a lateral flow-style test (similar to a

home-pregnancy test). It may also provide early diagnosis

of acute fasciolosis in sheep. By diagnosing infection in

individual animals, this test would allow for targeted

treatments and reduce the reliance on blanket drug use.

Development of improved diagnostics for the detection

of Neospora caninum infected cattle – Moredun Research

Institute

Neopsora is the most frequently diagnosed cause of bovine

abortion in many countries in Europe and worldwide. It is

caused by the protozoan parasite Neospora caninum (N.

caninum). The economic impact of the disease involves

significant losses due to abortion, premature culling,

reduced milk yield and reduced post-weaning weight. This

project aims to develop more sensitive diagnostic tests to

allow the accurate detection of infected and carrier animals.

The focus is on persistently infected cattle that may elude

currently available diagnostics.

ANIMAL HEALTH RESEARCH CLUB

In 2012, AHDB, through its Beef & Lamb, Dairy and

Pork sectors, joined with the Biotechnology and

Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) to

found the Animal Health Research Club (ARC).

ARC was formed to bring together industry and the research

community to improve understanding of resistance to

pests and diseases in farmed animals. ARC has 12 company

members who contribute to funding research and take part

in directing the club’s activities.

The club has a total budget of approximately £10 million:

£965,000 from industrial membership subscriptions,

£831,000 from the Scottish Government and £8 million

from BBSRC.

ARC addresses the following key research challenges:

• Understanding the basis of resistance or resilience to

pests and diseases in farmed animal species

• Developing novel tools for defining disease biomarkers

and phenotypes to inform breeding strategies for

subclinical diseases and increased disease resistance

• Understanding variation in vaccine responsiveness and

immunocompetence at different developmental stages

and disease outcomes

• Determining the effects of selection for production

traits on immune function.

ARC invests in research to underpin knowledge and improve

skills in the research community to deliver pre-competitive,

innovative and industrially relevant outputs for the animal

breeding, pharmaceutical and production industries.

A total of 15 research projects and five PhD studentships

have been awarded through the ARC.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW CURRENT PROJECTS | 13


NUTRITION

UPDATING THE METABOLISABLE

ENERGY REQUIREMENTS FOR SHEEP

Current feeding standards for breeding ewes in

the UK are largely determined by the Technical

Committee on Responses to Nutrients report

published by the Agriculture and Food Research

Council (AFRC, 1993).

In the 20 years since its publication, there have been no

attempts to update or refine these recommendations. This is

in contrast to the dairy sector where concerns over feeding

recommendations, especially for high-yielding dairy cows,

were largely addressed by the Feed into Milk (FiM) Project.

Several well-documented concerns over the UK feeding

standards for sheep have been highlighted, particularly

in relation to the prediction of metabolisable energy

requirements for maintenance and the contribution of

fat mobilisation to these requirements, particularly in

the pregnant ewe. There is a need to investigate the

maintenance energy requirements of sheep and to update

current feeding standards accordingly, particularly for

breeding ewes. There is also a need to better understand

the feed requirements for growing replacement ewes.

The project, called Feed into Lamb, is being conducted at

the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern

Ireland and aims to review and update the current UK

feeding standards for sheep in terms of their metabolisable

energy requirements, particularly in relation to age, degree

of maturity and both current and historical nutritional

status. An experiment on adult ewes will be conducted in

2017 and one on growing animals in 2018, with the final

results being made available by December 2018.

FEEDING THE EWE

The last Feeding the Ewe publication was in 1988.

A lot of research has since taken place in this area

and many new breeds have become commonplace.

Research such as the alternative forages trial and many like

it, have been undertaken over the last 20 years but have not

been incorporated into one document for easy access for

consultants, advisers and producers.

The project team has on-farm practical experience of

feeding and includes a nutrition chemist. Their approach

is to ask industry advisers what is needed in the manual.

This is to ensure maximum buy-in and effective use of the

manual once produced. A questionnaire was circulated to

approximately 20 vets, nutritionists and advisers to ask

their opinions. The data was collated and presented to the

participants in a breakout session at the British Society of

Animal Science’s annual conference in 2016, where excellent

input and ideas were gathered.

NEXT STEPS

The team will convert their extensive literature review into a

BRP+ document, which will cover feeding ewes in a range of

systems throughout the year, and will be available Autumn

2016. The BRP manual on sheep nutrition will be updated and

rationing workshops will be held during the winter of 2016/17.

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NUTRITION

DEVELOPING GRAZING SYSTEMS

FOR BEEF PRODUCERS

There is growing interest from beef producers to

graze cattle for more days, to gain more weight

from grass and to understand the potential

benefit of rotational grazing.

The potential of grass and grazed forages in relation to

growth rates for beef cattle is well known but is often not

realised on English farms. The two-year Beef from Grass

project aims to highlight the potential of grass and grazed

forage for beef cattle production and will provide practical

guidance on how beef producers can improve their current

grazing management.

At the end of last year, four mentor grassland beef

producers (Graham Parks, Matt Pilkington, Catherine

Pickford, Steve Thorne) were linked with four beef

producers (Andrew Crow, Tim Phipps, Matthew House,

Lloyd Mortimore) who wanted to significantly improve

their current beef performance from grass. Working with

other industry specialists, the aim is to upskill the improver

farms and then to feedback the key messages to the

wider industry.

The four farm improvers have been split between two

consultants, Marc Jones (ADAS) and Charlie Morgan

(independent grassland specialist), who are targeting three

key areas of improvement:

1. Number of days cattle are housed

2. Stocking rates across the grazing platform

3. Growth rates from grazing and silage/forage.

By the end of the project, it is aimed that a blueprint for

managing grass for beef cattle will be created, this will

include targets for growth rates, stocking rates, cover

targets and infrastructure requirements. In addition, key

performance indicators will be identified which relate to

grassland management and profitability from beef. These

are likely to cover kg of weight produced per hectare,

concentrates fed per animal and fertiliser practice.

NEXT STEPS

Regular updates on this project can be found in the AHDB

Beef & Lamb Grazing Club e-newsletter. Over the course of

the project, each farm will host an on-farm event, which will

provide an opportunity to learn more about the project and

discuss the key focus areas for grassland improvement.

REVIEWING BEEF NUTRITIONAL STANDARDS

The Agrifood and Bioscience Institute (AFBI)

of Northern Ireland has recently been awarded

funding for a postgraduate studentship to initiate

the revision of current beef nutritional models

used within the UK.

The current models are based on equations developed over

30 years ago and there is considerable evidence to indicate

that these underestimate the nutrient requirements of

modern beef cattle. Consequently, there is an urgent

need to revise the nutritional standards for beef cattle

and produce accurate prediction models for feed intake,

metabolisable energy and protein requirements for beef

cattle produced under a range of systems.

This studentship will be aligned to a range of beef research

programmes being undertaken by the beef research team

at AFBI Hillsborough and the beef technology development

programmes being undertaken by the College of

Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The studentship will focus on three work packages:

1. Scientific review of literature and meta-analysis of work

conducted over the last 30 years for a range of animal

types and production systems

2. New research to fill knowledge gaps, including grazing

beef cattle

3. Validation of new prediction models on commercial

farms, linking to the BETTER farms programme.

Messages will be communicated via a range of routes as the

research progresses and linked to other projects ongoing

within the AHDB beef R&D portfolio. As well as targeting

farmers, the outcomes will be aimed at feed advisory

services to encourage updating of ration formulation

models and improving adviser knowledge.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW CURRENT PROJECTS | 15


SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION

WHAT IS SARIC?

The Sustainable Agriculture Research &

Innovation Club (SARIC) is a joint initiative

between the Natural Environment and Research

Council (NERC) and the Biotechnology and

Biological Research Council (BBSRC).

SARIC was set up to support innovative projects that will

provide solutions to key challenges affecting the efficiency,

productivity and sustainability of the UK crop and livestock

sectors.

Other partners include Anglian Water, Associated British

Agriculture, Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and Syngenta.

Approximately £10m of funding is available to address two

key challenges identified by industry:

• Resilient and robust crop and livestock

production systems

• Predictive capabilities for sustainable agriculture.

Funded projects from the first call include:

• Magnesium Network (MAG-NET): Integrating

soil-crop-animal pathways to improve ruminant health

• Impacts of different vegetation in riparian buffer strips

on hydrology and water quality

• Diverse forage mixtures to optimise ruminant animal

production, nutrient use efficiency, environmental

impact, biodiversity and resilience.

Another round of activity will be decided by the consortium

in 2016.

INTEGRATING BEEF INTO ARABLE ROTATIONS

AHDB Beef & Lamb is funding a project led by

ADAS to investigate the concept of integrating

beef production into arable cropping systems.

Escalating input costs, combined with increasing demand

for land means that starting or expanding beef enterprises

can be a challenge. This project will emphasise the practical,

economic, environmental and agronomic implications of

integrating beef and arable enterprises in a predominantly

arable cropping area.

By investigating the concept of integrating the systems,

producers from both sectors will have access to valuable

information to enable them to make more informed

decisions. Potentially, this concept could prove an effective

means of increasing scale and subsequent productivity

for beef units throughout England. There is still some

uncertainty from arable producers about the economic

return of introducing beef production into their rotation.

Yet, the integration of both systems could prove a viable

method of mitigating various issues currently facing arable

crop producers.

Issues such as herbicide resistance, reduced fertiliser

efficiencies and diminishing soil health threaten the viability

of arable crop production in parts of England. From an

arable perspective, it is estimated that a direct benefit will

come by simply adopting grazed leys into the rotation.

Potential benefits to the beef producer include reduced cost

of production, reduced dependency on expensive variable

costs and the potential to expand their enterprise.

A key part of this project is to translate information on

the practical, economic, environmental and agronomic

implications of integrating beef enterprises into arable

systems for both arable and beef producers.

NEXT STEPS

Both farms that are involved in this research project will be

used to communicate the findings of the project through

events and case studies, alongside AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.

16 | CURRENT PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


SYSTEMS

EVALUATING THE PERFORMANCE, HEALTH AND

WELFARE OF BEEF CATTLE ON A RANGE OF

LARGER FINISHING UNITS IN ENGLAND

As beef finishing units increase in size there is

a need to better understand key factors driving

performance.

There is also the need to be responsive to mounting

consumer interest and expectations about how their food is

produced. To date, there has been little research conducted

to compare finishing systems and investigate the impact

that the type of finishing system has on the performance,

health and welfare of cattle.

Westpoint Veterinary Group and SAC Consulting are

currently delivering a three-year project investigating the

health, welfare and performance of beef cattle on larger

finishing units in England. The project aims to provide an

evidence base for larger beef finishing systems, identifying

innovations and best practices and providing robust data

which can be used to benchmark English systems against

those seen in the main beef-producing regions of the world.

Initially, a survey of large finishing units will be undertaken,

together with a review of the literature evaluating factors

affecting beef finishing cattle performance. Subsequently,

a number of on-farm trials will be carried out to increase the

evidence base in relation to key factors of relevance to cattle

health, welfare and performance on large finishing units.

NEXT STEPS

Findings from the project will be communicated to beef

producers and the wider industry through events and articles

during the life of the project.

VALIDATING KEY PERFORMANCE

INDICATORS FOR BEEF PRODUCTION

AHDB Beef & Lamb has recently funded a

pilot project working with the University of

Nottingham looking at evaluating current and

novel beef key performance indicators (KPIs).

The aim is to help beef producers track performance and

identify their business’ strengths and weaknesses. KPIs are

figures calculated from records that can be used to predict

overall business success. They can be used to make informed

decisions, identify strengths and weaknesses and implement

changes that may drive up the profitability of the business.

At the start of the project, a technical advisory group

(TAG) was set up and this group will form a core part of the

project going forward. The TAG consists of a small group

of producers, industry professionals, academics and AHDB

Beef & Lamb staff who will work together to develop KPIs

for each major method of beef production.

At the start of 2016, the TAG and further industry experts

met to discuss current and potential KPIs in the areas

of fertility, health, finance, growth, carcase, feed and

environment in suckler and growing/finishing systems.

Other KPIs will also be identified from a review of work

around the world. Currently, the four producers involved in

the project are providing physical and financial data from

their own beef enterprises to produce a range of KPIs. This

will help to identify the practicality of collecting the data

required to calculate the KPIs and the value of them to both

producers and industry professionals.

NEXT STEPS

Results will be communicated to the industry through

producer meetings and technical articles.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW CURRENT PROJECTS | 17


GENETICS

BEEF FEED EFFICIENCY PROGRAMME

The Beef Feed Efficiency Programme is a £1.75

million Defra and AHDB Beef & Lamb-funded

initiative aiming to demonstrate the ability to

measure for feed efficiency traits in beef cattle

on specially equipped commercial farms.

The output will include genetic parameters required for

the development of breeding values for traits associated

with feed efficiency. Initially, the programme is targeting

Limousin-bred cattle, with its ambition to establish a

sustainable system for recording feed efficiency that can

be extended to other cattle breeds in the future.

The programme is currently in year two of its four-year

duration and is progressing well. Feed intake records are

currently being collected for batches of beef cattle at

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). The aim is to collect 500

cattle records through this unit over five batches. Pure

and crossbred cattle are being sourced in sire groups,

representing a wide range of genetic merit within the

population, and their intake and performance records will

form the basis of the genetic evaluation for their sires.

Cattle recorded at the SRUC facility

Interim results for Batch 1 were reported at the British

Cattle Breeders Conference in January and showed a range

of residual feed intakes (RFI) across the 13 sires represented,

as shown in Figure 5. RFI or net feed efficiency (NFE) as it

is also known, is a measure of an animal’s dry matter intake

in relation to its predicted intake and it is independent of

liveweight and growth rate. Cattle with low RFI values (see

bars towards the left on Figure 5) eat less than predicted

without any effect on rate of liveweight gain.

Figure 5: Residual feed intake by sire for Batch 1

RFI (kg DMI/day)

0.60

0.40

0.20

0.00

-0.20

-0.40

-0.60

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Most efficient cattle

= lower intake

Sire

8 9 10 11 12 13

NEXT STEPS

Some meetings have already been conducted and more

will be arranged on the feed recording units as the project

continues. These are complemented by bulletins as well as

wider press releases and presentations to producer groups

from AHDB and through partners and supporters such as

British Limousin Cattle Society, auctioneers, calf rearers

and milk processors. Information about the programme

will feature on the AHDB Beef & Lamb stand at shows

during 2016.

Two commercial farms have been contracted to undertake

recording of feed intake and performance of growing

beef cattle over the next two years. These units will

have specialist equipment installed to record individual

cattle intake over a 63-day test period, during which time

liveweight gain and fat depth will also be recorded.

These units are located in Dorset and North Yorkshire.

Both farms have capacity for batches of around 120 cattle

and the opportunity to finish the cattle after they have been

on test, allowing valuable carcase data to be fed into the

genetic evaluation.

The programme is looking for Limousin-sired calves to

purchase or acquire on a retained ownership basis. Suitable

calves will originate from a farm that is able to supply four

to 16 steer calves from the same, currently (or previously)

registered, Limousin bull or AI sire. They need to be suitable

for entry to a rearing unit (two to four weeks of age) or be

weaned and aged up to seven months old. Market prices will

be paid for any selected cattle. For more information, please

email natalie.cormack@ahdb.org.uk.

This project is being funded by

18 | CURRENT PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


GENETICS

RAMCOMPARE - ABATTOIR ACTIVITY

The aim of RamCompare is to enable the UK sheep

industry to drive genetic improvement forward

through the inclusion of commercial data in

genetic evaluations.

Partners from along the supply chain are involved and

extensive data recording, from birth to slaughter, will be

carried out in order to inform genetic evaluations, with

performance data being included from farms through to

abattoirs. The RamCompare project was launched in May

2015 and phase one completes in November 2017.

The first breeding season has finished, with around 3,600

lambs born and the first lambs arrived in the abattoirs in May.

Together with AB Sustain and Sainsbury’s, a standard

protocol was developed for farms and abattoirs to use for

all project lambs slaughtered. Following Sainsbury’s retail

specification, two companies are involved:

• Randall Park Foods (abattoir in Llanidloes, Powys and

cutting plant in Andover, Hampshire)

• Dunbia (abattoir and cutting plant in Llanybydder,

Carmarthenshire).

At slaughter, the liveweight, carcase weight, conformation

and fat classification will be recorded for all lambs finished.

Approximately 30% of females from each sire and farm

will be further assessed for meat yield and tenderness.

The carcases will be broken down into primals (Table 8)

in the cutting plants and the weights of the primals will

be recorded. A sample of the loin muscle will be taken to

measure shear force to ensure tenderness is not affected

by sire.

The primal yields will be compared to the on-farm ultrasound

measurements of the lamb’s muscle and fat depth taken

when they were around 12 weeks old. This is the first

time that ultrasound measurements are being taken

from commercial lambs sired by rams with ultrasound

measurements, with a proportion of the carcases being

broken down into primals and weighed.

Table 8: The primals measured at cutting plant

Haunch Front Middle

Total haunch Total front Total middle

Legs Shoulder (ex fillet) Rib in loin

Chump weight Neck fillet Best end

Bone weight Breast tip/flap Breast

Fat weight Neck stump Blade tip

Other trim weight Bone weight Bone weight

Fat weight

Other trim weight

Fat weight

Other trim weight

NEXT STEPS

Updates on the RamCompare project, including biannual

newsletters, are available at ramcompare.com or on Twitter

by following @ramcompare. Events are being held on the

six commercial farms involved over the course of the project,

which runs until December 2017.

COMBINED BREED ANALYSIS FOR TERMINAL RAMS

Genetic evaluations of sheep in the UK have

traditionally been within purebred populations.

However, around 56% of ewes in the national flock are

crossbred and crossbred sheep are increasingly being used

in genetic improvement systems. There is, therefore, a

demand for across- breed estimated breeding values (EBVs).

These sort of evaluations are widely used in Ireland, New

Zealand and Australia. On completion, the project will enable

crossbred animals to be analysed accurately while taking into

account hybrid vigour.

The Combined Breed Analysis (CBA) project, led by EGENES,

was launched in 2015 and includes 12 terminal sire breeds.

To be included in the analysis, animals must have an accurate

record of their breed make-up and be at least 50% of the

specified breed. One set of genetic parameters is being used

and shows similar heritabilities and correlations as those

previously used. The EBVs generated via the CBA project are

correlating well with the in-breed evaluations, meaning that

the best sheep within breed are still earning the best values.

Currently, the project is assessing three different methods

of modelling hybrid vigour and the results show that no one

breed is overly favoured or penalised by the evaluation.

Running the CBA will save an estimated 136 hours a year,

which will be reallocated to running monthly rather than

quarterly reports, giving all breeders more frequent updates

on genetic progress. The project will produce better EBVs

and give breeders a wider range of genetics to choose from

when making breeding decisions.

Through 2016, the analysis will undergo rigorous quality

assessment and extensive testing. It is anticipated that

in 2017 all twelve terminal sire breeds will be moved to

the CBA.

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW CURRENT PROJECTS | 19


INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT

ONLINE TOOL FOR RECOMMENDED

GRASS AND CLOVER LISTS

Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL) are

drawn up after rigorous testing for attributes such

as yield, persistency, quality and disease resistance.

The RGCL testing programme is funded by plant breeders

through the British Society of Plant Breeders and the

ruminant levy boards in England and Wales.

Knowing the performance characteristics of grass and

clover is immensely useful for grassland producers. It allows

appropriate selection of varieties that will perform well for a

particular system.

There are three steps to making the best use of the RGCL:

1. Is it on the list? – When looking at mixtures, check that

the varieties are listed in the booklet

2. Is it right for the job? – Make sure the type of grasses

listed in a mixture are fit for the purpose

3. Which varieties fit the job? – Refinements can be made

to mixtures in consultation with your merchant.

The 2016/2017 RGCL handbook and the full lists for

merchants are available to download at beefandlamb.ahdb.

org.uk/returns and britishgrassland.com/rgcl

There is an online tool which

means that, with just a few

clicks, producers are now able

to select and compare

the latest recommended

perennial ryegrass varieties,

assisting them in selecting

varieties to suit their

individual farm requirements.

The tool can be found by

visiting dairy.ahdb.org.uk

HOW TO USE THE TOOL

• Select the purpose of the mixture – either for grazing

(including up to one cut) or for silage (two or more cuts

per year)

• Then select one or more of the filters, depending on the

purpose of the mixtures

• A list of the most relevant perennial ryegrass will

be produced

• Up to four varieties can be compared in detail and the

data can be downloaded as a CSV file

• More detailed information is available on each variety by

clicking on the name.

DEVELOPING BEEF EXPERTISE

AHDB Beef & Lamb is working with the British

Institute of Agricultural Consultants (BIAC) to

deliver continuous professional development (CPD)

to consultants and advisers who want to develop

their beef expertise.

The programme was set up to help develop beef expertise

to ensure well-trained and experienced consultants and

advisers continue to be available to the beef industry. The

programme consists of five meetings, held from December

2015 to December 2016.

In October 2015, AHDB Beef & Lamb recruited 16 consultants

and advisers to take part in the programme. Applicants were

assessed on the proportion of time they spent working

with English beef and lamb levy payers, how the individual’s

development needs fitted with the programme’s outputs

and whether they were willing to deliver on-farm events.

The first meeting was held in December 2015 and focused

on herd performance and selecting cattle for slaughter and

included a visit to Rowntree Farm near Clitheroe, followed by

a ‘Live to Dead’ day at Dunbia, Sawley.

The second was held in February and at this meeting

consultants and advisers received an introduction to the Beef

Improvement Group’s net feed efficiency project and the

Defra and AHDB Beef & Lamb-funded Beef Feed Efficiency

Programme. Sessions also included factors affecting the

meat quality of beef and a workshop on EBVs. The meeting

finished with a workshop on influencing skills.

The third meeting was held in June at Rothamsted Research

in North Wyke, Devon where the consultants and advisers

were introduced to the Farm Platform, a world-class facility

attracting researchers to develop sustainable ruminant

production systems. There was an opportunity to discuss

the key grazing advice for beef producers and how to use

grazing plans with their clients. They were also provided with

detailed training on Stocktake.

A further two meetings are scheduled for September and

December. The focus will be on health and building design

in September, and in December the focus will be rationing

and feeds.

20 | CURRENT PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT

CENTRE OF INNOVATION EXCELLENCE IN LIVESTOCK

In early 2016, the Centre of Innovation Excellence

in Livestock (CIEL) came into being, with formal

agreement from the Department for Business

Innovation and Skills to provide £27 million of

capital funding to develop the much-needed

facilities to support livestock research in the UK.

CIEL is one of a family of four Agri-Tech Centres of

Excellence and will work closely with the other centres to

deliver impact for the livestock industries. This investment

from government will be matched with co-funding from

each of the 12 research partners, resulting in a total

investment of around £60 million.

Building work has commenced on a number of sites and new

equipment has been sourced. CIEL has begun signing up

industry members, with businesses joining from throughout

the agri-food supply chain. These industry members

will drive the research agenda for CIEL through an R&D

Committee. Research will address industry needs in the

beef, dairy, pigs, poultry and sheep sectors.

CIEL’S VISION

To support, promote and deliver innovative, industry-led

research for sustainable intensification of the UK livestock

sector through a single centre, with the aim of generating

wealth and business competitiveness through the growth in

profitability of that sector.

AHDB will work closely with CIEL to develop research

programmes that meet the needs of levy payers, benefiting

from the investment in excellent research facilities and the

huge value in collaboration of experts from across the UK.

We will contribute to the development of pre-competitive

research programmes through the R&D committee. In

addition, CIEL will be in a strong position to bid in response

to AHDB calls or tenders for research in the livestock area.

For more information,

visit: www.cielivestock.co.uk

The next challenge for CIEL is to begin to establish

programmes of research that address the industry need

in livestock production (including health, nutrition and

genetics) and product quality.

LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY DATA EXCHANGE HUB

A new data exchange hub, which would allow

access to data held in existing Government,

industry and private databases, is being

investigated.

The project, funded by the Agri-tech Catalyst, aims to allow

key animal-based information to be brought together and

presented through a single web-based portal.

The initial focus of the project is on animal disease and farm

assurance data, with access limited to auction markets,

abattoirs and producers via a secure, password protected

login. It is envisaged that the framework developed can then

be expanded to other areas of livestock data, managed and

governed by an industry-led consortium, which will greatly

benefit all sectors of the industry.

AHDB is working with over 20 industry collaborators for

the feasibility study, including industry databases, farm

management software suppliers, auction market and abattoir

system providers. Within the consortium, Shearwell Data

Ltd. has primary responsibility to deliver the final technical

specification, agreed by an industry project steering group.

The steering group includes the National Farmers Union

(NFU), AHDB (Beef & Lamb, Dairy), Livestock Auctioneers’

Association (LAA), British Meat Processors’ Association

(BMPA), British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) and

Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG).

Arable and sheep producer, John Cross, who is chairing the

project steering group, said: “The data relating to each animal

is out there but it’s sitting in different locations. Making this

information more available will be a significant step forward,

as this will mean that all commercial operators can benefit

and enhance the service they offer to their clients.”

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW CURRENT PROJECTS | 21


OTHER CURRENT PROJECTS

Species

Area

Title Why Institution

Beef

Sheep

Health &

Welfare

Nutrition

Genetics

Systems

Completion

Date

Suckler cow nutrition

pre-calving

To understand if there is any

benefit of increasing the protein

supply to pregnant beef cows

SAC

Commercial

Ltd

x x Sep 16

Diseases present in

cull ewes

To determine how useful disease

surveillance in cull ewes is for

detecting iceberg diseases

Farm Post

Mortem Ltd

x x Oct 16

Genetics of trace

element deficiencies

in sheep

To understand the variability

between animals for trace

element deficiencies

Nottingham,

Roslin

x x Nov 16

Feed planning tool

development

To understand how to develop a

feed planning tool for UK systems

Farmax x x x Nov 16

Tackling neonatal

lamb losses

To reduce lamb losses by focusing

on body condition score, rationing

and vaccination

SAC

Commercial

Ltd

x x Feb 17

Crop nutrient

management manual

To update the Fertiliser Manual

(RB209)

ADAS x x x May 17

Sheep KPI project

To demonstrate the importance of

body condition monitoring on ewe

and lamb performance

LSSC Ltd,

Nottingham

x x Jul 17

Improving control of

liver fluke in cattle

To improve control of liver fluke

by developing new management

tools

Liverpool x x Sep 17

Assessment of silage

losses

To understand the factors

affecting silage clamp quality

Silage

Solutions

x x x Sep 17

Optimising sulphur

management to

maximise oilseed

rape and farm

profitability

Satellites to improve

agri-food systems

Calf to carcase on

a low cost outdoor

forage system

SUREROOT

Monitoring systems

for improved health

management

To demonstrate the benefit of

organic manures as a source of

sulphur within cereal rotations

To investigate novel methods to

assess grass growth

To understand how animals can be

reared on forage systems

To understand grass and clover

root interactions for crop

production and soil structure

To evaluate technological methods

to assess health in housed dairybred

beef youngstock

ADAS x x x Feb 18

ADAS x x x Mar 18

ADAS x x Oct 18

Aberystwyth x x x Mar 19

SRUC x x Dec 19

Connected Farms –

Beef

To understand how technology can

be integrated on beef farms

Molecare

Veterinary

Services

x x Apr 20

22 | OTHER CURRENT PROJECTS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


STUDENTSHIPS

Generally, three PhDs are funded per year but when other sources of funding are available, such as CASE

studentships, then AHDB Beef & Lamb can be involved in more.

Some of the studentships are joint funded with other levy boards. More details on the studentship call can be found on page 24.

Who What Species When Where

Additional

Funding

Hazel Wilkie

Identifying and exploiting the molecular basis of resistance to

gastrointestinal parasites

Sheep

Oct 12 –

Sep 16

Roslin

BBSRC, CASE,

SIG

Rachel Clifton

Role of Fusobacterium necrophorum in sheep and the

environment in the severity and persistence of footrot

Sheep

Oct 13 –

Mar 17

Warwick

NERC, CASE

Stefano Guido

Development of diagnostics for the detection of Neospora

caninum infected carrier cattle

Beef

Oct 14 –

Sep 17

Moredun

QMS

Tessa Walsh

Development of a pen-side diagnostic test for fluke infection

in sheep and cattle

Beef and

Sheep

Oct 14 –

Sep 17

Liverpool

Fredericka

Mitchell

Rapid pen-side detection of salmonella from calves with scour

Beef

Oct 14-

Sep 17

Kingston

Jennifer

McIntyre

Markers of anthelmintic resistance in gastro-intestinal

parasites of ruminants

Beef and

Sheep

Oct 15 –

Sep 18

Glasgow

KTN, CASE

Hannah Shaw Control of cryptosporidiosis in calves Beef

Oct 15 –

Sep 18

Moredun

AHDB Dairy

Grace Cuthill

Diagnosis of fluke infective stages in the environment

Beef and

Sheep

Oct 15 –

Sep 18

Moredun

Graham

McAuliffe

Intensive pastoral production systems for beef – impact and

value

Beef

Oct 15 –

Sep 18

Bristol

Bristol, QMS

Lynsey Melville

Development of molecular tools for the rapid assessment of

benzimidazole resistance and investigation of possible factors

in resistance development in Nematodirus

Sheep

Jan 15 –

Dec 18

Moredun

Louise

Whatford

Best practice to minimise mastitis in sheep

Sheep

Oct 15 –

Dec 18

Warwick

Naomi Prosser What really causes footrot in sheep? Sheep

Oct 15 –

Dec 18

Warwick

BBSRC, CASE

Hanne Nijs

Developing an efficient, validated, sustainable on-farm

syndromic surveillance system for beef cattle and sheep

Beef and

sheep

Jan 16 –

Dec 18

Warwick

Warwick

Zoe Willis

Dichelobacter nodosus metapopulations and epidemiology of

footrot in endemically infected flocks

Sheep

Oct 15 –

Sep 19

Warwick

KTN, CASE

Nerys Wright

Strategic use of body condition scoring to improve

performance in commercial sheep flocks

Sheep

Jul 14 –

Jun 20

Nottingham

FIVE NEW PhDs WILL START IN OCTOBER 2016

What Species When Where

Additional

Funding

Evidence-based farm decisions for lamb production Sheep Oct 16 – Sep 19 Nottingham

The impact of Maedi-Visna on breeding flocks Sheep Oct 16 – Sep 19 Nottingham

Reviewing beef nutritional standards Cattle Oct 16 – Sep 19 AFBI Agrisearch

Persistence and transmission of intramammary pathogens

causing acute mastitis: the role of chronic intra-mammary

abscesses

Sheep Oct 16 – Sep 20 Warwick CASE

Genetic and molecular basis of triclabendazole resistance in

Fasciola hepatica

Beef and

sheep

Oct 16 – Sep 20

Liverpool

BBSRC, DTP,

CASE

AFBI = Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, BBSRC = Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, (i)CASE = (Industrial) Collaborative Awards in Science

and Engineering, DTP = Doctorate Training Partnerships, NERC = Natural Environment Research Council, SIG = Sheep Improvement Group, QMS = Quality Meat

Scotland, KTN = Knowledge Transfer Network

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW STUDENTSHIPS | 23


R&D PROCESS

AHDB Beef & Lamb aims to have a portfolio of research which delivers knowledge to support the following

priority outcomes for the beef and sheep industries:

KEY OUTCOMES FOR

ENGLISH BEEF INDUSTRY

• Increase weaned weight of suckled calves

per hectare

• Increase forage and feed use efficiency in growing

and finishing beef cattle

KEY OUTCOMES FOR

ENGLISH SHEEP INDUSTRY

• Increase weaning weight of lambs per hectare

• Increase forage and feed use efficiency in growing

and finishing lambs

R&D is managed by members of AHDB’s Animal Science and

Animal Breeding and Product Quality teams, in consultation

with the Beef & Lamb R&D Committee. The R&D Committee

and AHDB staff are responsible for interpreting the AHDB

Beef & Lamb Board’s strategic vision to direct the priorities for

research, and consider the relevance to industry of individual

research proposals. AHDB staff are responsible for generating

or developing internal ideas and managing the application

process for proposals from external sources, as well as

ensuring scientific scrutiny of research proposals.

Project proposals can come as a response to a tender (specific

area) or a call (more general area) or as unsolicited proposals.

Applicants who are submitting unsolicited proposals are

encouraged to discuss them with AHDB staff prior to

submission to ensure the subject is appropriate and to prevent

unnecessary work.

Proposals are submitted on the appropriate template and

reviewed by staff before going to the AHDB Beef & Lamb

R&D committee. The committee meets six times per year and

a proposal needs to be submitted around two months prior

to the meeting to allow time for reviewing. Each proposal

has a staff member allocated to it and they will act as the

liaison between the committee and the applicants. Some

proposals are sent out for peer review if additional expert

opinion is needed.

The R&D committee can recommend funding (subject to

contract), request revision and resubmission or can reject the

proposal. The applicant will be informed and an AHDB Beef &

Lamb staff member will work with them, as appropriate. If the

proposal is successful, a contract will be signed and then the

work can begin.

AHDB Beef & Lamb provide representatives to participate

in a Joint R&D Committee with HCC, QMS and AgriSearch.

This is a collaborative group comprising the UK red meat

levy organisations.

This committee group has quarterly teleconferences or

meetings to discuss joint projects or ideas, with the aim of

one face-to-face meeting per year. This is aimed at avoiding

duplication and maximising co-funding opportunities.

STUDENTSHIPS

AHDB generally funds a total of 15 PhD studentships (see

page 23) per annum and issues a call for studentships in

early summer for a deadline in September. Applicants are

expected to demonstrate that their proposals meet the

priorities of AHDB.

The winning applicants are informed the following January

and the student generally starts in October.

AHDB Beef & Lamb welcomes the opportunity to work as an

industrial partner within CASE PhDs (see page 23). Currently

seven of the 20 current PhD studentships are funded as part

of the collaborative awards.

AHDB has an annual studentship seminar where all PhD

students present. It provides a good opportunity for students

to gain experience of presenting and builds their awareness of

what else AHDB is funding.

R&D WORKSHOP

AHDB Beef & Lamb organises an annual workshop aimed at

consultants, advisers and vets. Its objective is to communicate

the results of the work that has been completed and is ongoing.

Although there are not as many beef or sheep advisers or

consultants as in other sectors, they still have an important role

in communicating best practice and the latest science to levy

payers. It also provides a networking opportunity.

Please contact Karen Morris (see page 25) to register an

interest to attend.

DEVELOPING SHEEP EXPERTISE

Following on from the success of Developing Beef Expertise,

AHDB Beef & Lamb is working with British Institute of

Agricultural Consultants to develop a continuous professional

development course for sheep consultants and advisers. The

first meeting of the 12-month programme will be in late 2016.

This programme will include detailed updates on current

research projects and will aim to encourage consultants and

advisers to develop research and knowledge transfer activities.

24 | R&D PROCESS

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW


CONTACT THE TEAM

Name Job Contact Details Areas Of Interest

Kim Matthews

Head of Animal

Breeding and

Product Quality

024 7647 8824

kim.matthews@ahdb.org.uk

Meat science

Genetics

Dr Mary Vickers

Beef & Lamb

Senior Scientist

(Beef)

07990 506012

mary.vickers@ahdb.org.uk

Beef production

Beef health

Beef nutrition

Greenhouse gases

Dr Liz Genever

Beef & Lamb

Senior Scientist

(Lamb)

07790 378349

liz.genever@ahdb.org.uk

Sheep production

Sheep health

Sheep breeding

Grass and forage

management

Sarah Pick

Scientific Officer

(Beef)

07779 455407

sarah.pick@ahdb.org.uk

Suckler cow efficiency

Beef breeding

Beef health

Grassland management

Bill Reilly

Scientific Officer

(Grass and Forage)

07814 650708

bill.reilly@ahdb.org.uk

Grass and forage

management

Livestock in arable rotations

Soil health

Samuel Boon

Animal Breeding

Senior Manager

024 7647 8826

samuel.boon@ahdb.org.uk

Sheep breeding

Beef breeding

Pedigree marketing

Dennis Homer

Meat & Livestock

Technical Services

Manager

07775 884866

dennis.homer@ahdb.org.uk

Meat science

Selection for slaughter

Ultrasound measurements

Karen Morris

Livestock Science

Team Coordinator

024 7647 8828

karen.morris@ahdb.org.uk

Contracts

Invoices

Committee papers

Studentships

AHDB BEEF & LAMB R&D REVIEW CONTACT THE TEAM | 25


eefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk

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