Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


NZ Sheep Genetics Could Improve UK Sheep Industry

Media Release

6th December 2012

NZ Sheep Genetics Could Improve UK Sheep Industry

A Marks and Spencer sustainable lamb trial suggests New Zealand sheep genetics could improve the UK sheep industry efficiency.

Research commissioned by Marks & Spencer has found that the use of New Zealand sheep genetics could offer sustainability benefits for UK sheep farmers.

The work, which was jointly conducted by the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), investigated the merits of using Highlander and Primera sheep breeds in UK sheep flocks to maximise value in the supply chain through increased lamb output and reduced production and processing costs. The study was also supported by Focus Genetics and Linden Foods.

Trials took place on two upland flocks belonging to the Buccleuch Group and compared a ‘typical’ UK production system of Mule and Texel x Mule ewes, with Highlander and Highlander x Blackface ewes to represent different replacement breeding strategies.

These ewes were crossed with Texel rams, to represent a typical UK terminal sire, as well as UK-bred and NZ-bred Primera rams. Performance was recorded throughout the production and processing cycle, finishing with an evaluation of meat-eating quality using consumer taste panels.

The trial concluded that increasing lamb output and production efficiency by switching from Mule to Highlander ewes offered the opportunity to develop a more sustainable lamb supply chain through reducing on farm costs and greenhouse gas emissions, whilst maintaining product quality, processing efficiency and meat eating quality. Replacing Texel rams with Primera resulted in faster growth rates and a higher proportion of high-value cuts.

Commenting on the results of the trial, AFBI scientist, Dr Ronald Annett, said:

“The Highlander ewe showed excellent fertility and rearing ability and the Primera-sired lambs portrayed superior growth rates and had higher wholesale value.”

“Hopefully this study will make UK farmers think about what drives their returns. It highlights the importance of production efficiency, rather than focusing solely on lamb price or carcass conformation. The trial has demonstrated the importance of maternal genetics in driving production and we hope farmers will take this on board.”

Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture & Fisheries Sourcing at M&S, added:

“For a number of years commercial volatility has seen increasing numbers of sheep producers leaving the industry in the UK. We commissioned this work as one of our PaceSetter projects within our Farming for the Future programme. Over the last seven years we have worked with Focus Genetics and a number of UK farmers to try to replicate their successful New Zealand lamb production model in the UK.

“We recognise that there are a large number of different production systems in the UK and this trial is simply about establishing baseline information to allow producers to make their own informed decisions on the production model that best suits their farm.”

Bayden Wilson, Focus Genetics UK Manager, concluded:

“We welcome the results of the study and hope it will encourage more UK farmers to invest in Focus Genetics breeds. We would like to grow our UK business and we hope farmers will convert after seeing such positive scientific results from New Zealand sheep breeds. As the world seeks more sustainable food production, our genetics are obviously well placed to help farmers improve on-farm efficiency.”


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Health: New Zealand's First ‘No Sugary Drinks’ Logo Unveiled

New Zealand’s first “no sugary drinks logo” has been unveiled at an event in Wellington... It will empower communities around New Zealand to lift their health and wellbeing and send a clear message about the damage caused by too much sugar in our diets. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news