Meet the Scientist - Dr Francis Lively

Date published: 15 December 2016

Area of Expertise:

I grew up on a small beef and sheep farm near Rathfriland and have always had a keen interest in the beef and sheep industry. After finishing my degree in agriculture at Queen’s in 2002 I undertook a PhD jointly between the Food Science Division at Newforge and the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland (ARINI) Hillsborough on beef eating quality.

Since 2005 I have been working on beef production research at Hillsborough covering a range of topics from production systems, breeding, nutrition, greenhouse gas emissions etc.  Outside of AFBI my main interest (surprisingly enough) is beef farming as I farm along with my father & brother.  We currently have 80 suckler cows plus followers and a small flock of 75 sheep.

5 Facts about the beef industry

  1. Beef production is the second most important farm enterprise in Northern Ireland, contributing £400 million to the Northern Ireland economy in 2015 which accounted for 23% of Northern Ireland Gross Agricultural Output.
  2. There are more farmers involved with beef production (either suckler producers or beef rearers/finishers) than any other enterprise in Northern Ireland.
  3. There are 269,700 breeding beef cows in Northern Ireland located on 15,090 farms. There are 53 breeds of beef cows recorded on the Bovine Information System, BovIS.
  4. Northern Ireland beef farmers produced 101,600 tonne of clean beef in 2015.
  5. There is a massive opportunity for improved production efficiency at the farm gate for:
  • improving herd fertility (current average calving interval 420 days)
  • improving animal health & performance (current average slaughter age of heifers and steers 26 months).

Hence final fact - Urgent need for new beef research facilities at AFBI Hillsborough.

Facts about Dr Francis Lively:

Favourite TV/radio show?
Never seem to get time to watch much TV although I do like CSI and for radio, well, it’s hard to beat a bit of Downtown Country!

What is your favourite food/dinner?
With my PhD & home interest it can only be STEAK and chips BUT with no sauces –as they only destroy the natural favour of the meat!  Not forgetting Rathfriland’s own Graham’s Ice Cream to finish with!

What are your hobbies?
Beef farming – nothing better to clear your head after a long day in the office than a walk through a field of cows!  Did a little acting with Young Farmers in the past but think I’m best sticking to the day job.

If you won £5,000,000 on the Lottery, what would you do with it?
Farm it away - probably keep me going a few years.

What 3 things would you put on your bucket list?
Visit Australia, learn how to swim, do a sky dive.

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