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Animal Breeding & Genomics

The overall goal for SRUC’s animal breeding and genomics research is to bring together our strengths in animal breeding, genetics and genomics to:

  • optimise health, welfare and fitness-related traits in domestic species
  • improve the economic value and quality of livestock products
  • develop genetic improvement tools harnessing latest data capture, data mining, phenotyping, computing, statistical and –omic technologies

As appropriate to this goal, our works spans the continuum from detailed studies of genetics and genomics of biological phenotypes to systems-level work assessing genotype and environmental interactions on sustainable livestock systems. Our main current research areas include:

  • Use of genomic and sequence information in conservation and selection programmes
  • Design of breeding programmes for more sustainable use of genetic variation
  • Broader breeding programmes to address health, welfare and fitness-related traits
  • Economic and environmental assessment of livestock systems for the development of broader breeding goals
  • Sustainable genetic improvement of hill sheep
  • Development of genetic and genomic improvement programmes for milking goats
  • Improving selection and management strategies for cows of different genetic merit for production, managed in different systems
  • Development of new breeding indices for health, fertility and survival traits in livestock species
  • Programmes to improve the economic value and quality of livestock products.
  • Development of tools and systems for enhanced phenotyping livestock species
  • Improving sheep carcass quality using CT (computer tomography) scanning
  • Conformation and meat-eating quality in sheep
  • Harnessing routine mid-infrared analysis of milk to improve dairy production systems (human health attributes of milk, health and fertility attributes of cows)
  • Dissecting the immune profile of dairy cows and changes over time
  • Telomeres as a biomarker for ageing in livestock
  • Understanding fertility and calving in cattle
  • Statistical and computing algorithms for genetic and genomic evaluation of livestock populations

The team has access to specialist research facilities including:

  • Edinburgh Genetic Evaluation Services - a unit providing database services for performance, genetic and genomic information, genetic evaluations for farm livestock and national and customised selection indexes
  • A CT (computer tomography) scanning facility - allowing minimally disruptive studies of body composition and form; the unit uses both a fixed and mobile scanner is the only one in the UK devoted to farm animal studies. The CT unit links into a worldwide network on Farm Animal Imaging.

Prof Mike Coffey

Professor of Livestock Informatics / Team Leader - Animal Breeding & Genomics and EGENES

Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

Telephone: 0131 651 9335

Fax: 0131 535 3121