CT (computer tomography) is a medical imaging technique which produces images of body cross-sections, using low dose X-rays, without harming the animal. The detailed images produced allow very accurate estimation of body composition and tissue distribution.

The Animal and Veterinary Science Research Group provides CT scanning services to livestock breeders, to other research organisations and for veterinary diagnosis. A modern CT scanning unit and a team of specialist staff are available in Edinburgh and at other locations across the UK with a mobile service, for use in a wide range of applications by researchers and external organisations.

We run a CT scanning service for sheep. Scanning using CT is a more accurate method for identifying characteristics which cannot be measured by ultrasound and allows you, among other things, to better identify the best animals in a flock for breeding.

A modern CT scanning unit and a team of specialist staff are available in Edinburgh and at other locations across the UK with a mobile service, for use in a wide range of applications by researchers and external organisations

Uses of CT Equipment

Our CT equipment has been put to a diverse range of uses. It has been used most intensively to predict carcass tissue yields in sheep to accelerate improvements in carcass quality.

This service has been used both by members of sire referencing schemes and by other elite sheep producers operating under Signet who require a better estimate of carcass composition than provided by conventional ultrasound.

The scanner has been used for a range of studies on agricultural and zoo species and for studies on wood structure and strength. It has also been successful in aiding the diagnoses of ailments in companion animals when conventional veterinary techniques have provided equivocal conclusions.

Benefits of CT Scanning (Sheep)

CT scanning allows you to more accurately identify the best animals in a flock for breeding. It assists delivery of rams to the commercial sector that will make a real difference to product quality and profitability.

Used in partnership with ultrasound scanning, in a 2-stage selection program, CT offers the opportunity to accelerate the rates of response to selection, for improved carcass quality, in a cost effective way.

Example: Charollais tup Logie Durno Earl of Dunbar (bred by W & C Ingram) - CT scanning of the whole body found this tup to be in the top 5% of the breed for total lean meat yield. This position had not been possible with on-farm ultrasound scan results taken from the loin only.

CT can provide additional information on characteristics that cannot be measured by ultrasound e.g. muscle shape, muscularity, muscle volume, bone density, internal fat, pelvic dimensions. CT scanning can benefit your breed, improve your product quality and ultimately increase your profits - all vital to ensure business success post CAP reforms.

Your CT scan results predict:

  • carcass tissue weights and %
  • killing out %
  • muscle to bone ratio
  • muscle to fat ratio
  • gigot shape and eye muscle area    

These data are sent to you for each individual animal along with their CT images. The results are also included in the Signet Sheepbreeder calculations of estimated breeding values (EBVs).

CT scanning dates 2023

Dear all, 

We are again offering our CT scanning service in 2023.  

We are planning to offer the full service across the UK in the same locations as last year with a possibility of a new site at Skipton market. Numbers for the trips south will be confirmed on at least 100 lambs being booked in for a two-day scanning session. 

Please contact us if your requirements are different from the dates given. 

We look forward to seeing old and new clients in 2023.


17-21 April – Edinburgh 

27-28 April – Stratford 

15-19 May – Edinburgh 

25-26 May – Possibly Stratford or Skipton if clients want this site, please get in touch ASAP 

14-19 Jun – Edinburgh 

29-30 Jun – Stratford 

24-28 July – Edinburgh 

14-18 Aug – Edinburgh 

23-24 Aug – Aberystwyth 

11-15 Sept - Edinburgh 


Costs for 2023 

Edinburgh – £85/lamb 
Mobile sites – £115/lamb 

Subsidy with requirements for eligibility 


Funding is only available for ram lambs 

  • each lamb must be fully performance recorded (with an eight-week and scan weight held on file) and with known parents
  • breeders must send a minimum of five ram lambs per flock (with a selection of sires represented); funding is limited to a strictmaximum of eight lambs per flock
  • funding is restricted to the following breeds: Beltex, Blue Texel, Charollais, Hampshire Down, Meatlinc, Shropshire, Southdown, Suffolk and Texel
  • breeders must be based in England



  • minimum of five lambs per flock
  • maximum of 20 lambs per business/flock
  • male lambs only
  • breeders must be based in Wales


  • ideally, a selection of sires should be represented in the group of lambs you bring for CT scanning
  • lambs MUST be off food for a minimum of four hours before scanning
  • ideally, lambs should already be back-fat scanned
  • lambs should be around 40kg in weight
  • female lambs can be CT scanned but will not be eligible for subsidy
  • lambs withdrawn within ten days of the scan date will be charged at the full unsubsidised rate

Backfat and CT scanning sheep at SRUC

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