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    Animal Science Research Centre

    Beef and Sheep Research Group

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    Why is beef and sheep research important?

    The aim of the Beef and Sheep research group is to develop novel and innovative practices, technologies and systems to improve and optimize beef and sheep production, thereby enhancing environmental, economic and social sustainability.  

    Our multifocal approach, based on excellent animal health, welfare, nutrition, management and technology use, allows us to identify and leverage the key performance indicators and management opportunities that are key for improving the sustainability of beef and sheep systems.  

    Reducing resource use and greenhouse gas emissions are a key focus of our research programme, yet we work synergistically to concurrently improve other aspects of sustainability, including biodiversity, water use, soil health, economic viability and social acceptability. 

    Key partnerships with industry stakeholders ensure that we are focused on the needs of the beef and sheep sectors, undertaking research that is applicable, appropriate and adoptable by producers within the UK and further afield. We are committed to effective knowledge transfer, ensuring that the results of our research are disseminated across the industry, encouraging behavioural change.  

    Contact us

    Research contact 01952 81 5113
    Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm


    Centre lead

    Our expertise

    Our research group has a wide range of academic and practical expertise that complements the group’s mission and focus. Researchers within our group have a solid foundation in animal science, yet with specific expertise in sustainability, ruminant nutrition, health and welfare, grazing systems, mathematical modelling and systems analysis. Our research projects are designed to include both the environmental, economic and social factors essential for developing resilient and sustainable beef and sheep systems, under the umbrella of One Health – integrating human, animal and ecosystem health. 

    The majority of our live animal work is conducted at the Harper Adams facilities for beef and sheep experiments, which allows for up to 140 cattle to be housed at any one time, and over 300 high health status Lleyn ewes. Through our strategic partnerships with ABP Foods UK and other processors and retailer members of the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, we also undertake research outside the Harper Adams campus.  

    Current research partners range from UK government (DEFRA) to livestock nutrition companies, meat processors and industry organisations. We also work within collaborative global partnerships including the Animal Task Force, Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock and the Global Farm Platform; and with animal science organisations including the British Society of Animal Science and the European Federation of Animal Science.

    We have a demonstrated record of both publishing in high-quality peer-reviewed scientific journals and disseminating our research to the farming and popular press, as well as appearing in podcasts and radio/TV media.

    What can we do for you?

    Our group is committed to research that benefits both the UK and wider global beef and sheep industries, as well as linked industries and sectors. Current research projects and interests include the following: 

    • Factors influencing greenhouse gas emissions, economic viability and whole system sustainability of UK beef and sheep operations 
    • Integrating sheep and cattle into arable operations 
    • Impacts of different sward composition on performance of growing lambs 
    • Effects of environmental enrichment on performance of finishing beef cattle 
    • Interactions between dairy and beef cattle productivity on the sustainability of the combined UK cattle population 
    • Studies on nutritional availability and performance impacts of differing feed ingredients within the ration 
    • Modelling whole system impacts of changes in cattle and sheep nutrition, performance and management. 

    Our research is underpinned by the extensive University laboratory facilities. The group also supports teaching within the University at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level, including the Diploma in Ruminant Nutrition and Masters Degree in Ruminant Nutrition. We also participate in many industry initiatives, both ruminant-specific and of wider interest, with the aim of promoting and improving beef and sheep production, and providing evidence-based information to discussions and debates.

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