Work Package Number: 2.5 Running Title: Livestock Genetics and Management for Product Quality and Sustainability Policy Context In the Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture, the Scottish Executive outlined the aims for the whole of Scottish agriculture, including livestock farming. Livestock farmers need to continue to adopt practices and technologies that enable them to operate more effectively in an increasingly competitive food chain. The effect of this knowledge and technology uptake should be stronger alignment with markets and the production of safe, high quality food. In 2003 the production of livestock and livestock products contributed £1.2bn (57%) of gross agricultural output in Scotland. In addition, as a whole, farmers are stewards of 75% of Scotland’s land; livestock farmers are responsible for the conservation of much of the landscape and biodiversity and have a significant contribution to make to tackling water and air pollution and climate change. This dual role of supplying livestock products that the market requires and providing public goods is likely to increase under proposed CAP reforms and presents challenges that can be tackled by high quality research and knowledge transfer. In Scotland, livestock farming, like other types of farming, varies from place to place according to local conditions, indicating that research outputs may need to be tailored to different circumstances. However, livestock farmers in all areas and in all sectors, beef, lamb, dairy, poultry and pigs will face the need for increased market orientation in the face of competition and for the delivery of public good. This leads to a requirement for research that provides evidence for best practice in nutrition and management, the use of appropriate breeds and the adoption of new technologies. In line with the main activities and outputs of Scottish agriculture, the main targets will be the beef and sheep sectors. This work package will provide the evidence and tools for decision making by livestock keepers, the outputs will also inform policy makers, with the overall objective of enabling the Scottish livestock industry to develop and prosper. Required Outputs An evidence base for technical advice to livestock keepers on the appropriate and optimal use of animal breeding to improve a range of traits associated with product quality and potentially animal health and welfare. Evidence, new technology and decision support tools to enable production of consistent and high quality livestock produce. Knowledge, leading to advice on the role of environment, nutrition and genetics on product quality attributes. Knowledge that will break down the barriers to uptake of technologies and opportunities; this may include a clearer understanding of the unit cost and efficiency of production. Technologies or decision support tools that will enhance rates of breed improvement without compromising health, welfare and product quality. Provide evidence and advice on best practices that will help livestock systems deliver biodiversity and environmental goals, both for more intensive systems such as dairying and in extensive systems. Evidence for the use of grazing or finishing systems for improved meat quality including nutritional and health enhancing properties. 1 Impacts of Research The overall aim is to enable the development of a prosperous livestock industry for Scotland that provides high quality produce in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner. Uptake of existing and new technologies and best practice will help the Scottish livestock industry to match market requirements for livestock products while making a positive contribution to the environment and biodiversity (CCT1, 2 and 3). The Scottish Executive will be informed on barriers to a successful Scottish livestock industry and how to overcome them. Broader breeding goals delivered by conventional or new technologies, employed in existing or new breeds should aim to improve nutrient efficiency, animal health and welfare. Linkages Anticipated This WP should bring together expertise on grazing behaviour and biodiversity (and others) at MLURI with the SAC sustainable livestock systems to generate a team with strength in depth to address sustainability issues in extensive livestock systems. The delivery of outputs from this WP should be strongly co-ordinated with those from WPs 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 3.1. Outputs from the WP will feed the delivery of objectives for cross-cutting programmes on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainability (CCP1, 2 and 3). Co-ordination with programmes funded from other sources, notably Defra, BBSRC and industry will be important in this regard. Where possible work should be aligned with ongoing studies elsewhere that are using complementary approaches such as QTL identification and use of molecular markers. It will be important to use and co-ordinate a number of different KT routes including Monitor Farms, Advisory Activities and in particular to work with the whole industry chain to develop consistent KT messages and to assess their uptake and impact. KT routes for sustainable livestock systems might incorporate Government or industry initiatives and knowledge, tools or systems generated elsewhere alongside a long-term plan to incorporate breeding goals such as improved carcase quality, health and welfare traits. The development of predictive objective measures of meat eating quality should be taken forward be taken forward in discussion with industry bodies and other funders. The business, environmental and biodiversity effectiveness of individual or combined tools or strategies requires assessment in experimental and participative research systems. The latter would require linkage to commercial operations. Suggested Movement From Current Position Demonstration that plans for research are drawn up in agreement with industry and other end-users to ensure the focus of the WP remains on priority issues for the Scottish livestock sector. 2 FORM WPD P1-3 Nov 05: WORK PACKAGE DETAILS Section 1: Contacts and Organisations: 1.1 Title of SEERAD Programme Programme 2: Profitable and Sustainable Agriculture - Animals 1.2 Title of work package Livestock Genetics and Management for Product Quality and Sustainability 1.3 Work package reference number Work Package 2.5 1.4 Work package manager details: Title Forename Surname Organisation Name Department or Division Address Line 1 Address Line 2 Address Line 3 Town/City Country Email Telephone FAX Prof Geoff Simm SAC Sustainable Livestock Systems Group SAC Bush Estate Penicuik Midlothian EH26 0PH Scotland, UK email@example.com 0131 535 3209 0131 535 3121 3 1.5 Organisations involved in work package and percentage contribution. Organisation Name SAC Macaulay Institute Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland % Total WP cost 96.4 3.6 Costed in Work Package 3.2 1.6 Total work package cost (£K GBP). 9,410.343 1.7 Duration of work package 5 years 1.8 Start date (dd/mm/yy) 01/04/06 1.9 End date (dd/mm/yy) 31/03/11 4 Section 2: Strategic Relevance. Please note: Section 2 is designed to allow assessment of the strategic policy and end-user relevance of the proposed work package by non-scientists. The information provided in this section should be written in a style that someone with a standard level education in science would find informative and accessible. 2.1 Overview. Summarise in approximately 500 words the proposed work and indicate how it will address the Required Outputs, including the relevance of the proposed work to SEERAD policy, end user(s), relevant sector(s) and to Scotland. The Scottish Executive’s A Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture emphasises the importance of Scotland’s livestock farmers adopting practices and technologies that enable them to operate more effectively in an increasingly competitive food chain. An important part of this is the production of high quality produce that the market wants. The research and knowledge transfer (KT) planned in this Work Package (WP) is intended to deliver knowledge, and cost-effective, reliable tools to help livestock producers, and support organisations, achieve these aims of improving both product quality and business performance. Livestock and livestock products contributed £1.2bn (57%) of gross agricultural output from Scotland in 2003, and farmers are stewards of 75% of Scotland’s land. Both the Forward Strategy and the Scottish Executive’s Custodians of Change policy documents emphasise the inextricable link between agriculture and the environment. Livestock farmers are responsible for the conservation of much of Scotland’s landscape and biodiversity and have a significant contribution to make to tackling water and air pollution and climate change. This dual role of supplying quality livestock products that the market requires and providing public goods will become even more important as a result of CAP reform. The work planned here will provide knowledge, advice and tools to help policy makers, industry bodies, livestock farmers and environmental organisations fulfil these dual roles, and to help resolve potential conflicts between them. There is growing recognition of the importance of conservation and sustainable use of our farm animal genetic resources – in both ‘mainstream’ and rare breeds (e.g. the Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture initiative, and the UK Country Report on Farm Animal Genetic Resources). The work planned will investigate the potential of new technologies to help Scotland’s livestock farmers, and other stakeholders, fulfil the dual roles outlined above, in ways that do not compromise the long term viability of our farm animal genetic resources. Work planned here on epidemiology of sheep and cattle diseases, and on breeding for disease resistance, will help achieve the aims of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain. This WP is focussed on meeting the ‘Required Outputs’ specified by SEERAD. We believe that these outputs will be met most effectively by organising the work into three inter-related research strands, each with KT embedded in it: 1) Improving product quality, 2) Designing sustainable livestock breeding programmes, 3) Developing sustainable livestock production systems. Additional KT and knowledge management 5 activities are planned in a fourth strand. All of the work planned relates to at least one of SEERAD’s three Cross-Cutting Themes. The links with Cross-Cutting Theme 2: Protecting Biodiversity, and Cross-Cutting Theme 3: Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability of Rural Scotland, are especially strong. Outputs from this WP will include new knowledge on, advice on, and demonstrations of, best practice relating to profitable and sustainable livestock production. The outputs will also include websites hosting information and interactive decision support software, improved and proven technologies/tools, and enhanced services to livestock breeders. As well as meeting SEERAD’s Required Outputs, the research here addresses many of the priorities identified by representatives from across the supply chain at Red Meat and Dairy Research Priorities Workshops hosted by SAC in autumn 2004, and priorities in The First Report of the Sustainable Farming and Food Research Priorities Group. 2.2 Outcomes. Describe the specific outcomes intended to arise from the proposed work and explain how these will meet the “Required Outputs” given in the work package specification. Outcomes could include products and technologies, advice, recommendations, guidelines, protocols, IP and products, software and technology as well as scientific knowledge. The work we plan to do in this Work Package is focussed on meeting the seven ‘Required Outputs’ specified in the SEERAD Science and Research Group’s document A Guide To Commissioning in 2006/07: Programmes 1-3. These Required Outputs are: 1. An evidence base for technical advice to livestock keepers on the appropriate and optimal use of animal breeding to improve a range of traits associated with product quality and potentially animal health and welfare; 2. Evidence, new technology and decision support tools to enable production of consistent and high quality livestock produce; 3. Knowledge, leading to advice on the role of environment, nutrition and genetics on product quality attributes; 4. Knowledge that will break down the barriers to uptake of technologies and opportunities; this may include a clearer understanding of the unit cost and efficiency of production; 5. Technologies or decision support tools that will enhance rates of breed improvement without compromising health, welfare and product quality; 6. Provide evidence and advice on best practices that will help livestock systems deliver biodiversity and environmental goals, both for more intensive systems such as dairying and in extensive systems 7. Evidence for the use of grazing or finishing systems for improved meat quality including nutritional and health enhancing properties. We believe that these outputs will be met most effectively by organising the work into three inter-related research strands, each with KT embedded in it, plus a fourth strand delivering additional KT outputs: 1. Improving product quality 2. Designing sustainable livestock breeding programmes 3. Developing sustainable livestock production systems 6 4. Additional KT The 4 strands listed above include a total of 11 sub strands that are outlined in Table 2.1 (at the end of this section). In that table we also show the expected outcomes from each sub strand, and which of SEERAD’s Required Outputs are being met by these outcomes. 2.3 Benefits. Describe and if possible quantify the benefits which may arise from this research through the application of the intended outcomes described in section 2.2. How will the results/outcomes be used and who will benefit? The likely policy, socio-economic and environmental impacts arising from this work should be identified. The overall aim of this WP is to help the development of a more sustainable Scottish livestock industry. In particular, the work planned here is intended to help improve the financial viability of the livestock industry, and improve its ‘environmental footprint’. A key part of the work will be assessing, either via modelling or experimentation, the expected economic and environmental impact of modifications to the management of systems, or changes in animal genotype. It is difficult to quantify these benefits precisely in advance. At a whole system level, the main challenge is to identify modifications that enable financial viability post CAP reform while having at least neutral, and preferably positive, environmental impacts. Without such changes the future of ruminant livestock production in Scotland will be seriously threatened. In the medium term, improving product quality is a potentially important route to enhancing financial viability. Genetic improvement of farm livestock, to enhance product quality, improve overall economic performance, and produce more robust/easy care livestock is likely to play an important part in improving sustainability. Genetic improvement produces permanent, cumulative, changes in performance which are usually achieved in a highly cost effective way. The pyramidal structure of most livestock industries means that the uptake of new technologies by relatively few ‘elite’ breeders at the top of the pyramid soon produces benefits that cascade through the rest of the industry. Our previous estimates show that the benefits from genetic improvement of ruminants usually far exceed their costs, including research and development, within a few years of uptake (Simm, 1998). The WP will deliver additional social and environmental benefits, as well as economic benefits. A key component of the WP is identifying with stakeholders a more precise description of what the desired environmental outcomes are from future livestock systems in both lowland and upland areas. This will be followed by a comprehensive programme of work to understand how systems and animals can be changed to help meet these desired outcomes. A detailed description of the expected or potential benefits from each of the sub strands, and where possible their value, is given in Table 2.2 at the end of this section. 2.4 Knowledge and technology transfer. Describe plans for knowledge and technology transfer. Provide details of mechanisms, routes and timings of and audiences for knowledge and technology transfer activities. Include brief details of dialogue with end user(s) who have helped plan/focus the work. The KT planned here is part of the Main Research Provider’s (MRP’s) Programme for 7 Knowledge Management and Transfer to Deliver SEERAD’s Strategy for Biological Research. This involves three complementary activities: Collaborations/Partnerships, Knowledge Management and Knowledge Transfer. Each of these types of activity is planned within this WP. A particular strength of this across-MRP approach is the sharing of ideas, expertise and facilities to ensure that the most appropriate KT method from the available ‘toolkit’ is used for a particular intended outcome and audience. The three research strands listed above all have KT activity embedded in them. This ensures that the ‘champions’ of new knowledge or technologies – usually the lead researchers themselves – are provided with resources to interact directly with end users, or with key intermediaries. These interactions will include meetings with the internal (SAC) or external service providers best placed to deliver the results, input to KT Panel meetings (described below), conferences, specialist livestock shows and events, open days and training events. We will use a wide range of broadcast media, and education and training, to create wider awareness of the results from this WP. A fourth strand of ‘additional KT’ will: (i) develop decision support tools, (ii) demonstrate best practice on experimental farms (at an early stage of development, before monitor farms are expected to adopt such practices), and (iii) plan coherent, phased KT campaigns across WPs 2.4 and 2.5, using industry-recognised KT experts. A KT Panel comprising key industry stakeholders, advisers, WP researchers, educationalists and trainers relevant to this WP, and to WP2.4, will advise on KT priorities, including the subjects for these KT campaigns. These campaigns will be resourced from funds managed by the SAC KT Management Group, ideally with additional input from other stakeholders. A detailed description of the plans for knowledge and technology transfer from each of the sub strands, is given in Table 2.3 at the end of this section. As mentioned above, the research here and in WP2.4 addresses many of the priorities identified by representatives from across the supply chain at Red Meat and Dairy Research Priorities Workshops hosted by SAC in autumn 2004. In developing this proposal we have taken into account oral or written feedback on earlier drafts from SEERAD Policy Advisors with red meat, economics and environmental interests, Quality Meat Scotland, National Farmers Union of Scotland, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, the Soil Association and SAC livestock specialist advisors. 8 2.5 Contribution to cross-cutting themes. Describe how the proposed work will contribute to the three cross-cutting themes set out in the SEERAD SRG Research Strategy: Responding to Climate Change; Protecting Biodiversity and Environmental; and Social and Economic Sustainability of Rural Scotland. All of the research in this Work Package relates to at least one of the three Cross-Cutting Themes, as shown in Table 2.4 at the end of this section. The links with Cross-Cutting Theme 2: Protecting Biodiversity, and Cross-Cutting Theme 3: Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability of Rural Scotland, are especially strong. The research here in support of Cross-Cutting Theme 2 will link closely with actions within the Rural Biodiversity section of Scotland's Biodiversity: It's in Your Hands. Strategy Implementation Plans 2005-2007. Cross-Cutting Theme Champions will be appointed at Programme level to help ensure that these themes are being addressed coherently. 2.6 Contribution of work package to Programme. Describe how this work package contributes and adds value to the overall Programme of which the work package is a part. If applicable, briefly state how the proposed work adds value to other SEERAD programmes. As described in section 2.1, the research and KT in this Work Package addresses important Scottish Executive policy objectives, especially by enabling Scottish livestock producers and other stakeholders to improve product quality, and by providing knowledge or other means of improving the economic, environmental and social components of the sustainability of livestock systems. Several of the sub strands described here are linked to work in Work Package 2.4: Livestock Welfare. There are already strong collaborations between scientists working in WPs 2.4 and 2.5, especially via externally-funded research. We will continue to build on these collaborations within and outwith this WP. There are also important links between the work here on breeding for disease resistance, and that in Work Packages 2.1 to 2.3 on the control of bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases. We will liaise with colleagues at the Moredun Research Institute (MRI) responsible for these WPs, to ensure that our work on breeding for disease resistance is informed by their results. A large part of the work proposed here links to, or will be led from, Work Package 3.1: Sustainable Farming Systems. Full details are given in Section 3 below. We will liaise with colleagues at the Rowett Research Institute, on potential links with Programme 4: Impacts on Human Health. Researchers in Programme 4 will identify human dietary components with a proven, causal, beneficial role in human health. If research is needed on methods of altering the content of such constituents in livestock products, and the relevant research/KT expertise resides in WP2.5, we will either bring such activity into the programme, in discussion with SEERAD, or seek external funding to progress this. This linkage will ensure a ‘joined up’ approach to the relevant parts of SEERAD’s research programme on livestock and impacts on human health.