22 Oct 2009

Large-scale EU research project in NZ

12:44 pm on 22 October 2009

A large-scale European research project aimed at improving animal health and product quality by using low-input systems will use New Zealand expertise to help with selecting animals with desirable genetic traits.

The LowInputBreeds Project, run by Newcastle University in Britain involves 20 other international insitutions.

It aims to develop livestock breeding and management strategies for producing milk, meat and egg production that's either organic or has few inputs.

Lincoln University will host international scientists who will be researching genetics and low-input sheep production systems under the guidance of Professor Jon Hickford.

He says one of the main drivers for the exercise is not only the desire to reduce the amount of costs needed for livestock production, but also consumer's desire to ensure their food is free from antibiotics that may have been fed to the animal.

Dr Hickford says the researchers, the first of whom will be from Greece, will look at identifying specific genetic traits in sheep.

He says New Zealand will benefit by being a partner in one of the largest coordinated strategies to tackle issues of improved animal health and food quality.

The project will run until 2014.