AFBI’s latest research to improve performance on sheep farms

Date published: 29 June 2017

Area of Expertise:

Research scientists from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) based at Hillsborough and Stormont will present and discuss some of the latest research being conducted in AFBI, at the Sheep NI event, being held at Ballymena Livestock Mart on Monday 3 July 2017.

In particular, on farm studies, conducted in collaboration with veterinary practices and advisors and investigating novel approaches to health and production planning will be highlighted.

This work has involved the implementation of a new management system developed by AFBI and subsequent results indicate that most flocks need to record more data especially on the number and causes of losses and culls.

As part of the project, interventions were identified for each of the 10 flocks involved with the aim of:

  • reducing reproductive wastage
  • reducing growing lamb losses; and
  • improving gut worm and fluke control.

The data collected as part of this three year project, will allow the AFBI research team to evaluate the impacts that a more targeted approach to health planning can have on animal performance, welfare and financial indicators.

The optimisation of grass production and utilisation on sheep farms is another key focus of AFBI’s sheep research programme.  The project ‘Lamb from Grass’, funded by DAERA with support from AgriSearch involves detailed grazing trials at AFBI Loughgall.  These trials are investigating the effects of different grazing strategies and sward types on grass growth, quality and utilisation, as well as ewe and lamb performance.

This work is complemented with an on farm element where 10 lowland and hill sheep farms across Northern Ireland are evaluating the benefits of regular grass measurements, the importance of grass quality and how different breed types respond to similar grazing strategies.

An exciting development at AFBI Hillsborough has been the installation and use of an electronic feed, forage and water intake monitoring system.  This unique facility expands AFBI’s research capability in sheep nutrition and genetics and will be used to examine the impact of factors such as forage type and quality, supplement type and modified management practices on feed use efficiency, whilst also facilitating investigation of interactions between nutrition, genetics and the immune system.

So make sure you come and see us at the AFBI stand during Sheep NI 2017 to discuss our latest research findings and how they can help you improve your profitability and sustainability.

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DAERA and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.

AFBI's Vision is to use scientific excellence to advance the local and global agri-food sector.

All media enquiries to AFBI Press Office

Share this page