Sheep Feed Conversion Trials at Rothamsted

Recently initiated individual Feed Conversion Trials with Exlana sheep at the Robert Orr Small Ruminant Facility, located on the Rothamsted Research North Wyke Farm Platform aim to identify genetics that will allow us to produce more feed-efficient sheep with a reduced carbon footprint.

The trials, sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers and using research capability co-funded by CIEL, will help identify trait leaders for Feed Conversion to be used in future breeding programmes.

Tim White of Exlana Sheep said: ‘’Exlana sheep are already one of the most rigorously recorded and selected maternal breeds in the UK. Exploring the potential to add Feed Conversion to our selection criteria can only help reduce costly economic & environmental inputs. This will in turn help reduce the carbon footprint of these ewes.’’

Use of genetically superior feed efficient livestock is proven to be cost-effective, cumulative and sustainable throughout the livestock industry, but is relatively unrecorded in the sheep sector.

Jordana Rivero-Viera, the Principal Investigator explained the project will help to improve sheep genetics for feed efficiency and improve the long-term sustainability of meat production from forage.

Khalid Mahmood, the Innovation Manager said: “Rothamsted is excited to take part in a project that has a direct impact on sustainable food production that is in line with the new DEFRA ELMS plans.

“The outcome of the research will help to promote a breed with a positive environmental impact with regards to production efficiency.”

“This is a great example of how industry is actively supporting innovation in the sector to help the journey towards net zero farming. I’m pleased the research is made possible through the unique capability of this facility which CIEL has supported through funding from Innovate UK.”

Lyndsay Chapman, CEO, CIEL

The project is funded through ERDF-sponsored Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab.

For more information please contact

Dr Khalid Mahmood, Innovation Manager,