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Climate change evokes individual responses in sheep and goats
There are significant variations in how individuals respond to fluctuating weather conditions
Various coping mechanisms to fluctuating weather conditions revealed

A study, led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), has looked at ways of breeding sheep and goats to cope with climate change. Researchers studied animal performance records together with weather data – including the average daily temperature and humidity – and found significant variations in how individual animals respond to fluctuating weather conditions.

Researchers found the same weather change invoked a variety of responses in different animals, while the production of some was not affected at all – making them more resilient to climate change. With a significant proportion of the observed variation being genetic and heritable, researchers concluded that animal resilience to weather change could be improved through selective breeding.

The study is part of the Horizon2020 project iSAGE – a multi-million pound EU-funded research project aimed at future-proofing the sheep and goat farming industry.

SRUC professor, Georgios Banos, said the results of the study, published in BMC Genetics, could be used to further improve the accuracy of selective breeding, leading to the enhanced sustainability and profitability of farms.

“Climate is changing, bringing about increased weather volatility and farm animals have different capacities to cope with this change,” he said. “We investigated the genetic mechanisms that make an animal resilient to weather conditions, allowing it to maintain performance when challenged with weather volatility.

“This will enable us to continue selectively breeding for enhanced performance – such as high production and health – and at the same time breed for performance stability when external environmental conditions change.”

The iSAGE project, which runs until 2020, is a consortium involving 34 partners from the UK, France, Finland, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey, coordinated by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. SRUC’s focus is on creating practical breeding goals and tools for the sheep and goat sector in both the UK and across Europe.

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Defra extends applications to Zoo Animals Fund

News Story 1
 Defra has extended the deadline for applications for the 100 Million Zoo Animals Fund until 26 February 2021.

Launched in June 2020, the fund provides financial support for zoos and aquariums that have experienced a drop in income caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Grants of up to 730,000 are available, which can be used to pay for essential costs and maintenance, including veterinary care, medicines, animal feed and staffing.

More information about the fund and details of how to apply can be found here

Click here for more...
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APHA confirms eighth case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in England

The Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) has identified an eighth case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in poultry in England.

Confirmed on Tuesday (15 December), the outbreak was found in captive birds and poultry at a premises near Willington, South Derbyshire. A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been placed around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Further information about the outbreaks and the latest government advice can be found at gov.uk