Eblex gains funding boost for breeding project

Beef and lamb levy board Eblex has won £1.75m-worth of funding for a selective breeding project which aims to improve the sustainability of the meat industry

The four-year project will be run with Scotland’s Rural College and will look at the beef cattle selection as a priority. According to Eblex, the project is estimated to deliver increases in farm profit by 39% and a 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Eblex reported that industry-wide protocols will be issued on measuring feed efficiency, which will be then be used to produce estimated breeding values (EBVs) and a set of possible business models for the continued recording of feed efficiency parameters.

Eblex head of research and development Kim Matthews, who is leading the project, said: “We are very excited about this research project. Feed is one of the main costs in any beef enterprise. So this research has huge potential for beef farmers in the UK.

“The Limousin breed of cattle will provide data at this stage of the project to robustly demonstrate proof of principle. We will go on to collect data from other breeds – significant genetic variation exists within all breeds for the characteristics that relate to being feed-efficient – and the results will provide tools for all beef cattle breeders.”

The project is being supported by Defra, which is providing £1.5m of the funding.

Secretary of State for the Environment Elizabeth Truss said: “I want to forge a future for British farming, based on innovation, technology and the quality of our great British food.

“That is why we are helping to fund this new research, using biotechnology to identify what genes make the best beef cattle. This landmark project is expected to contribute to £150m a year in farm profits and is just one example of how food and farming is embracing the future to become a high-tech, powerhouse industry.”

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