Increasing the efficiency and improving the environmental performance of ruminant production systems.
In partnership with
The SRUC Beef and Sheep Research Centre links leading-edge developments in biology and engineering through to effects on the financial and environmental performance of ruminant production systems. Current research is focusing on improving feed conversion efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of ruminant livestock farming. The Centre also provides optimal conditions to carry out meat quality research. Techniques and protocols are available to determine carcass and meat eating and nutritional quality.
Key research expertise
SRUC brings together a range of biological and engineering skills and works synergistically with leading industry expertise and academic collaborators, both nationally and globally:
Animal imaging and sensing systems (precision livestock (or SMART) farming)
Biomarkers for animal performance, efficiency and health – for management or breeding
Measurement systems and proxies for greenhouse gas (particularly methane) emissions
Role of the rumen microbiome (microbial species and genes) in animal performance
Carcass and meat quality evaluations
Six respiration units to measure methane emissions from individual cattle, accompanied by training pens to accustom animals to being housed individually prior to going into the respiration facility
Each unit is equipped with weigh cells to measure individual feed intake. This allows methane emissions from each animal to be expressed accurately on intake basis
Feeders are fitted with integrated canopy ‘sniffers’ which allow measurement of methane emitted specifically whilst the animal is eating
The respiration units are similarly able to measure methane emissions from paired sheep
Integrated handling and weighing facilities
HOKO feeders allowing for individual intake measurements of up to 132 animals at a time. This system allows for measurements in grouped pen situations through the use of RFID tags, with the benefit of offering contrasting diets within each pen
Multiple silage clamps allowing for differing diets to be offered to cattle year-round
Feeding wagons allowing for precise diet formulation and nutrition, giving the ability to offer different diets within each pen
Mobile Sheep Feed Intake Facility
Enabling precision assessment of individual sheep intake, to assess variation between sheep and enable selection for feed efficiency. The equipment can be employed in ram breeding flocks around the UK.
Measures of colours and pH
Tenderness measurement equipment such as slice shear force as well as spectral measurement techniques such as visible and near infrared spectroscopy (Vis-NIR) and hyperspectral imaging (HI)
Mobile computer tomography (CT) scanner to obtain detailed carcass characteristics.
Strategic research strongly linked to application by farmers to enable the efficient and profitable production of sustainable, tasty, high quality and nutritionally rich meat products.
Supporting the Grand Challenges facing livestock food production:
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