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KTN scoping study leads to major investment in beef efficiency selective breeding project

The KTN is pleased to report that scoping work led by our agri-food team has led to the establishment of a £1.75m selective breeding project to improve both the sustainability and competitiveness of the UK beef industry.

Back in 2012 the KTN led a Defra commissioned scoping study to identify options for large scale and – importantly - industry supported recording of feed efficiency in UK beef cattle. Modelling results suggested that this type of recording, run in parallel with selective breeding of beef cattle, could result in increased farm level profits of 39% and a reduction in green house gas (GHG) emissions of 22% - worth around £31M and 725kt respectively, across the UK industry. The approach could be extended to include the recording of carcass traits for even greater impact.

The KTN were then able to demonstrate that there was strong industry interest in establishing such an initiative.

Defra went on issue a tender for this ground breaking project and the KTN was also able to play a key role in establishing the industry led consortium that will carry out a four-year £1.75m* project.

The project is being led by AHDB/EBLEX (the English levy body for red meat), and is supported by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). The wider consortium includes key partners from a cross-section of the UK beef supply chain including breed societies, abattoirs, processors and retailers, as well as the red meat levy boards for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is expected that this project will result in:

  • The establishment of industry supported UK standards for recording efficiency of feed use
  • A network of industry embedded recording units
  • The development of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for traits relating to feed efficiency
  • Increased collaboration within the beef supply chain

If successful, this truly innovative industry embedded system for recording feed efficiency in cattle could act as a model for other beef industries throughout the world.

You can find out more about this project at

*   £1.5m of the funding is being provided by Defra, with the remaining £0.25m funded by EBLEX.

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