Impact: Economic: Genomic selection has revolutionised, and is now
standard practice, in the major dairy cattle, pig and chicken breeding
programmes, worldwide and provides multiple quantifiable benefits to
breeders, producers, consumers and animals.
Significance: Increased food production world-wide
Beneficiaries: Breeding companies, primary producers, consumers,
Attribution: Work led by Haley and Woolliams (Roslin Institute now
part of UoE).
Reach: Methodologies applied worldwide in livestock improvement,
and more recently applied in human genetics and plant breeding.
Fertility of dairy cows has been in decline since the 1970's and this has
threatened sustainability of the dairy industry worldwide. Research led by
Nottingham University (UoN) identified key drivers of fertility and
provided genetic and nutritional tools for the industry, to help combat
the decline. The genetic tool was the UK Fertility Index, which is used
universally by breeders for national and international bull selection. The
nutritional tool, which is widely applied by international feed companies,
used the concept that nutritional manipulation of insulin enhances
fertility. Evidence shows that use of these tools between 2008 and 2013
has reversed the decline, and fertility is being restored. This has
brought commercial benefits for breeding companies, cattle food producers
and farmers and had a positive impact upon animal welfare.
Impact on productivity, the economy and the environment: UK dairy
farmers can select the best animals for breeding using analysis of a wide
range of traits, leading to improved productivity, greater efficiency and
reduced environmental impact, because of UoE research creating a UK
Test Day Model (TDM) and an overall Profitable Lifetime Index
Beneficiaries: The principal beneficiary is the dairy
industry, specifically dairy farmers who are able to generate higher
profits. This has benefits for UK consumers and the economy by keeping
milk prices lower. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated
with more efficient dairy farming practices has global benefits.
Significance and Reach: The genetic evaluation system enabled by
the PLI and TDM has resulted in a financial benefit to the UK dairy
industry of an estimated £440M over the period 2008-2013.
Attribution: The quantitative genetic research was led by Dr Sue
Brotherstone and Professor Bill Hill of the School of Biological Sciences,
UoE, with colleagues at Roslin Institute (UoE; UoA6) and SRUC (also
returned with UoE in UoA6) as described below.
In the UK, one in seven dairy calves dies annually during rearing. Herd
profitability is reduced further by calfhood disease and suboptimal growth
rates, delaying age at first calving and reducing milk output. Professor
Claire Wathes's longstanding scientific interests in dairy cattle
reproduction and development have led to a broader farming industry
appreciation of this issue, and to new approaches that address the
economic loss and welfare issue it represents. Her results are now
incorporated into professional and practical advice from DairyCo (industry
levy board); Defra; farm veterinarians; commercial feed companies; opinion
leaders in dairy farming; and the specialist farming media.
BEAA research on high sugar grasses (HSG's) led to the breeding of HSG
varieties that have had
a significant impact on the contribution of grassland to livestock feeding
across the UK. Their
impact on the economy, commerce and the production of livestock products
has been significant in
the UK and increasingly in other countries. HSG varieties currently
account for over 28% of the
perennial ryegrass seed sales in the UK, with over 150,000 ha sown in the
UK alone of these
varieties since 2008, as their positive benefit on the economics of
livestock production from grass
and environmental benefit through reduced N pollution from livestock
production is recognised.
Oats are recognised as a healthy grain reducing the risk of coronary
heart disease and as a
valuable grain for livestock feed. Research within BEAA has provided the
and agronomic knowledge that underpins the breeding of high yielding
husked and naked oat
varieties that meets the needs of end-users in the human food and
livestock sectors. BEAA bred
oat varieties account for approximately 65% of the UK market and have a
significant impact on
health and welfare, the economy and on production and support the
expanding instant oat
breakfast market sector that alone is worth £160million per annum.
Impact: Economic, public policy and animal health and welfare:
Selective breeding based upon identification of PRNP genotypes can
eliminate animals that are susceptible to scrapie from the flock.
Significance: UK sheep meat exports are worth >£380million.
Breeding for scrapie resistance protected the sheep industry from similar
damage to that inflicted by BSE on cattle and the UK economy.
Beneficiaries: Farmers, animals, consumers
Attribution: Professor Hunter and Dr. Goldmann (Roslin Institute,
now part of UoE) identified polymorphisms of the PrP (PRNP) gene
linked to scrapie susceptibility and resistance in sheep.
Reach: International, programmes breeding for resistance to
scrapie in sheep are now used in the UK, Europe and USA.
Impact: Economic, animal health and welfare: Genetic markers have
enabled selection of salmon
lines with improved virus resistance
Significance: UK salmon industry benefit estimated at ~£26
million/annum GVA following
identification of a genetic trait conferring resistance to an economically
devastating viral disease.
Beneficiaries: Salmon farming industry, consumers
Attribution: Work performed by Houston, Bishop, Woolliams and
Haley (Roslin Institute, now part
Reach: Aquaculture industry internationally, i.e. Europe and South
BEAA has created a world leading collection of Miscanthus genetic
resources. This collection and
associated expertise has led to an impact on commerce through investments
by industry in
Miscanthus science and plant breeding. Miscanthus is a
highly productive grass which naturally
occurs in Asia and is of interest as an energy crop worldwide. A second
impact has therefore also
been achieved through the implementation of international policy on the
fair and equitable use of
natural resources. The experience and knowledge gained through this impact
has provided an
example for others to follow and is being used to support UK and EU
legislation and policymaking.
Since 2011, an estimated 3 million UK milk consumers have benefitted each
year from research conducted at the University of Reading, which has
helped reduce saturated fatty acids (SFAs) in milk and milk products. The
research, which was carried out between 2004 and 2013, manipulated dairy
cows' diets to produce milk with reduced saturated fat and increased
unsaturated fat content. Leading UK retailer, Marks and Spencer (M&S),
used this research to support its suppliers in providing a new diet regime
for their dairy cows, launching a new low saturated fat M&S milk in
October 2011. The launch of this healthier milk product has led to (i)
improved diets and reduced associated health risks (heart disease, obesity
and cancer) for M&S customers (ii) reduced use of non-sustainable palm
oil in cow diets (iii) reduced harmful greenhouse gas emissions (iv)
increased sales for M&S and enhanced reputation in terms of quality
and corporate social responsibility (v) increased payment contracts for
milk producers and (vi) new techniques to measure fatty acids in milk for
the dairy industry.