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Selective breeding in sheep could enhance resilience to climate change
Some Chios sheep are more resilient than others to temperature fluctuations.
Study reveals some Chios sheep are more resilient than others to temperature fluctuations

Identifying genes associated with variations in milk production could help farmers breed animals that are resilient to climate change, according to new research.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, looked into whether Mediterranean dairy sheep could be bred to retain productivity in a changing climate. 

It reveals that some Chios sheep - whose milk is used to produce feta and other cheeses - are more resilient than others to temperature fluctuations throughout the seasons.

Using data from some 40,000 Chios ewes, researchers created a mathematical model of resilience to climate fluctuations based on milk productivity records, time of lambing and weather throughout the seasons. 

They found that some animals responded better than others to temperature fluctuations in hot or cold conditions – with some hardly affected by the changes. 

Resilience to hot or cold temperatures depended on the season in which the ewes had produced lambs, with sheep that had lambed in spring generally responding better to hot conditions. 

Scientists say that future studies could focus on specific genes associated with resilience to temperature fluctuations in individual animals. The finding may also inform how to optimise breeding selection for this trait, alongside other desirable characteristics such as reproductive potential. 

Professor Georgios Banos, from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) and The Roslin Institute, commented: “Our findings have implications for selectively breeding animals with genes that enable resilience to changing climates and for farm management, such as the time of year when ewes are bred.”

The study involved scientists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), Greece, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and The Roslin Institute. 


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Budding 'Dr Dolittles' sought for writing competition

News Story 1
 Vets are being invited to enter a writing competition run by the Page Turner Awards for a chance to get their story published or even made into a film.

Dubbed the 'Rolls Royce' of writing awards, the Page Turner competition provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to submit unpublished fiction and non-fiction work to be read by a panel of influential players in the publishing industry.

A spokesperson said: 'Do you think of yourself as a magical healer, like Dr Dolittle. Or maybe you have a story to share about the times when, sadly, animals can't be treated, and pet owners reflect on those moments they took for granted."

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News Shorts
Avian influenza confirmed in Lancashire

A case of highly pathogenic (HPAI H5N8) avian influenza has been confirmed in two captive peregrine falcons on a non-commercial, non-poultry premises near Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

Following a risk assessment, APHA has declared that no disease control zones have been put in place surrounding this non-commercial, non-poultry premises.

Eighteen cases of HPAI H5N8 have now been identified in poultry and other captive birds in England. A housing order for poultry and captive birds introduced by Defra to control the spread of the disease expired on 31 March, although bird keepers in England are still required by law to comply with biosecurity measures.

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