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    Economic insights into low carbon sheep project to be explored through new Master of Research post

    Posted 25 July 2023

    Lleyn sheep in a field

    A major research project to breed sheep with a low carbon footprint is to be backed with an MRes studentship which will help develop economic insights into its work.

    The studentship is being offered at Harper Adams University, one of several partners in the £2.9 million ‘Breed for CH4nge - Breeding Low Methane Sheep’ project which is being funded by Innovate UK.

    Using data gathered over three years, the project will measure methane emissions from a total of 13,500 sheep across 45 flocks to build and develop tools which will improve the efficiency of the national flock through genetically reducing methane emissions.

    The Lleyn flock at Harper Adams are one of several which will be used during the project which aims to show how low-carbon sheep can make a difference on whole farm carbon footprints.

    A range of Harper Adams staff will be taking part in the research, led by  Dr Sarah Morgan, Beef and Sheep Production Lecturer.

    Innovation Manager Dr Eric Siquerios, Animal Production and Health Lecturer Nicky Naylor and Elizabeth Creak Chair in Agri-Tech Economic Modelling Professor Karl Behrendt will all also be working on the research – with the new MRes being supervised by Professor Behrendt.

    Supported by the Worshipful Company of Butchers, the funded studentship will see its successful applicant collaborating with Dalehead Foods (Pilgrim’s UK) who will be collecting individual farm data from around 60 participating sheep farms.

    The MRes (Agricultural Economics) student will analyse this data, and develop new ways of analysing farms to improve their livestock production and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Participating farms’ performance would be examined and compared, with the insights gleaned used to identify best practice for sheep farmers to improve their performance, not only in production terms but also environmentally and economically. The postholder would also work to assess how previous investments in sheep genetics and environmental improvements affected sheep farm performance for the farms in the study.

    Professor Behrendt said: “This is a great opportunity for someone who is passionate about the UK sheep industry to learn from and work with farmers and others across the whole UK lamb supply chain.

    “It would be ideally suited to someone wanting to develop skills in farm business analysis and agricultural economics, and have a long-reaching impact on the future efficiency of the UK sheep industry.”

    Full details on how to apply for the MRes – which will remain open until August 31 and which will begin at Harper Adams this September – can be found here.

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