SRUC Beef and Sheep Research Centre

Genetics | Reproduction | Behaviour | Nutrition | Health & Welfare | Productivity | Food Integrity | Environmental Impact

Increasing the efficiency and improving the environmental performance of ruminant production systems.

In partnership with

SRUC Logo 200 x 89

The SRUC Beef and Sheep Research Centre links leading-edge developments in biology and engineering through to effects on the financial and environmental performance of ruminant production systems. Current research is focusing on improving feed conversion efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of ruminant livestock farming. The Centre also provides optimal conditions to carry out meat quality research. Techniques and protocols are available to determine carcass and meat eating and nutritional quality.

Key research expertise

SRUC brings together a range of biological and engineering skills and works synergistically with leading industry expertise and academic collaborators, both nationally and globally:

  • Animal imaging and sensing systems (precision livestock (or SMART) farming)
  • Biomarkers for animal performance, efficiency and health – for management or breeding
  • Measurement systems and proxies for greenhouse gas (particularly methane) emissions
  • Role of the rumen microbiome (microbial species and genes) in animal performance
  • Carcass and meat quality evaluations
  • Whole-farm/system modelling

Principle features

Measuring Emissions

  • Six respiration units to measure methane emissions from individual cattle, accompanied by training pens to accustom animals to being housed individually prior to going into the respiration facility
  • Each unit is equipped with weigh cells to measure individual feed intake. This allows methane emissions from each animal to be expressed accurately on intake basis
  • Feeders are fitted with integrated canopy ‘sniffers’ which allow measurement of methane emitted specifically whilst the animal is eating
  • The respiration units are similarly able to measure methane emissions from paired sheep

Feed Efficiency

  • Integrated handling and weighing facilities
  • HOKO feeders allowing for individual intake measurements of up to 132 animals at a time. This system allows for measurements in grouped pen situations through the use of RFID tags, with the benefit of offering contrasting diets within each pen
  • Multiple silage clamps allowing for differing diets to be offered to cattle year-round
  • Feeding wagons allowing for precise diet formulation and nutrition, giving the ability to offer different diets within each pen

Mobile Sheep Feed Intake Facility
Enabling precision assessment of individual sheep intake, to assess variation between sheep and enable selection for feed efficiency. The equipment can be employed in ram breeding flocks around the UK.

Meat Quality

  • Measures of colours and pH
  • Tenderness measurement equipment such as slice shear force as well as spectral measurement techniques such as visible and near infrared spectroscopy (Vis-NIR) and hyperspectral imaging (HI)
  • Mobile computer tomography (CT) scanner to obtain detailed carcass characteristics.


Strategic research strongly linked to application by farmers to enable the efficient and profitable production of sustainable, tasty, high quality and nutritionally rich meat products.

Supporting the Grand Challenges facing livestock food production:

Climate Smart Food Systems

Resource Efficiency & Precision Nutrition

SRUC Beef and Sheep Research Centre | CEIL