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Prof Mike Coffey

Research Interests

Mike CoffeyMy main area of interest is dairy cattle breeding and identification of appropriate selection goals that meet as many stakeholders requirements as possible. The number of traits incorporated into the selection goal for all species is increasing which brings challenges when traits have unfavourable correlations. Of particular note is the mobilization of body energy by dairy cows - some is desirable since it adds to efficiency in both economic and environmental terms. Too much mobilisation creates unwanted correlated responses in fertility, health and welfare and concomitant losses in environmental impact efficiency. Balancing traits according to their value requires economic values that are intriguing to calculate when the trait has societal value. The construction of overall indices is an area of great interest since it alone produces the change in the national dairy cattle population. Bringing component science into systems work has unique aspects of interest especially in identifying where tradeoffs have to occur and what the magnitude of the tradeoff is.

Getting research results out to farmers and causing (positive) change in their behaviour as a result produces personal rewards especially as their profit increases. Genomic selection is an infant technology and only time will tell how successful it will ultimately be. Improving tools over time will be required. Overall, genetic selection that includes any phenotype is of interest in all species. Determining the best route to market in the shortest time also brings different, but interesting nonetheless, challenges.

Current Research

Animal breeding and genetics of farmed livestock. Genetic and genomic evaluation.

Research Projects

Healthy milk from healthy cows (EU RobustMilk). Delivering tools for healthy milk (EU Optimir). Expanding dairy indices (Link).


I teach on the SRUC Agriculture degree course to Animal Science and Agriculture students. I lecture to practising Vets on the Diploma in Bovine Reproduction delivered at Liverpool University. I also teach in an ad-hoc manner to a number of audiences around the country but usually farmers on courses organised by Vet practices, RABDF and other extension services.

I have presented animal breeding topics at a very large number of farmer meetings (last one on Selection of Dairy Bulls on 24/11/2010) and at many farmer attended conferences (e.g. Lameness Conference, Mobility Conference, British Cattle Breeders Club (BCBC), Goat Veterinary Society, British Cattle Veterinary Association, Fertility Conference).

Selected Publications

  • Brotherstone, S., White, I. M. S., Coffey, M., Downs, S. H., Mitchell, A. P., Clifton-Hadley, R. S., More, S. J., Good, M., and Woolliams, J. A.2010 Evidence of genetic resistance of cattle to infection with Mycobacterium bovis. Journal of Dairy Science 93:1234- 1242
  • Banos, G. and Coffey, M. P.2010 Genetic association between body energy measured throughout lactation and fertility in dairy cattle Animal 4:189- 199
  • Mrode, R., Kearney, J. F., Biffani, S., Coffey, M., and Canavesi, F.2009 Genetic relationships between the Holstein cow populations of three European dairy countries Journal of Dairy Science 92:5760- 5764
  • Strandberg, E., Brotherstone, S., Wall, E., and Coffey, M. P.2009 Genotype by environment interaction for first-lactation female fertility traits in UK dairy cattle Journal of Dairy Science 92:3437- 3446
  • Mrode, R. and Coffey, M.2008 Understanding cow evluations in univariate and multivariate animal and random regression models Journal of Dairy Science 91:794-80
  • Pollott, G. E. and Coffey, M. P.2008 The effect of genetic merit and production system on dairy cow fertility, measured using progesterone profiles and on-farm recording Journal of Dairy Science 91:3649-3660
  • Wall, E., Coffey, M. P., and Amer, P. R.2008 A theoretical framework for deriving direct economic values for body tissue mobilization traits in dairy cattle Journal of Dairy Science 91:343- 353
  • Coffey, M. P., Hickey, J., and Brotherstone, S.2006 Genetic aspects of growth of Holstein-Friesian dairy cows from birth to maturity Journal of Dairy Science 89:322- 329
  • Coffey, M. P., Simm, G., Oldham, J. D., Hill, W. G., and Brotherstone, S.2004 Genotype and diet effects on energy balance in the first three lactations of dairy cows Journal of Dairy Science 87:4318- 4326
  • Coffey, M. P., Simm, G., Hill, W. G., and Brotherstone, S.2003 Genetic evaluations of dairy bulls for daughter energy balance profiles using linear type scores and body condition score analyzed using random regression Journal of Dairy Science 86:2205- 2212
  • Coffey, M. P., Simm, G., and Brotherstone, S.2002 Energy balance profiles for the first three lactations of dairy cows estimated using random regression Journal of Dairy Science 85:2669- 2678
  • Coffey, M. P., Emmans, G. C., and Brotherstone, S.2001 Genetic evaluation of dairy bulls for energy balance traits using random regression Animal Science 73:29- 40

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