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Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 85213

Prof Hugh Blair Animal Science


Institute of Vet, Animal and Biomedical Sciences

Professor Blair grew up on a hill country sheep and beef cattle farm in Kotemaori, northern Hawkes Bay.  He graduated from Massey University in 1976 and joined the Sheep Husbandry Department to lecture and undertake a PhD.  After a spell as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, he returned to Massey in 1983 as a lecturer in animal science.  In 1995 he became Professor of Animal Science and in 1998 assumed the role of Deputy Head of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Science.  Professor Blair lectures in animal breeding and genetics to undergraduate and postgraduate students.  His main research interests are: improving the application of animal breeding and genetic technologies to the improvement of production and service animals in New Zealand; understanding developmental programming to improve production animal performance and the study of the genetic causes of diseases.  Professor Blair has supervised 72 postgraduate students, 23 being PhD graduates, and currently supervises 14 postgraduate students. 

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  • PhD - Massey University (1981)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Quantitative animal breeding and genetics with an emphasis on the underlying metabolic and physiological processes that underpin genetic changes; the identification of epigenetic phenotypes in sheep and study of the likely mechanisms.


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences (070000): Agriculture, Land and Farm Management (070100): Animal Production (070200)


Quantitative animal breeding and genetics

Identification of epigenetic phenotypes in sheep and study of the likely mechanisms.

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Not Specified 2 0
Project Leader 4 47
Team Member 2 5

Current Projects

Project Title: Science-based Extension for Lower North Island Sheep and Beef Farmers

This is a 2-year project located at Riverside Farm that develops a new extension model based on high-quality farmer/scientist interaction and farmer-led networking. Building on earlier work by Massey's Farmer Learning Group, the project focuses on the use of perennial summer forages in dryland farming. The reconstituted Farmer Learning Group consists of a cross-College and interdisciplinary team of 12 Massey scientists (drawn from the Institute of Education, IAE and IVABS) working together with some 45 sheep and beef farmers from the eastern Lower North Island. Project leader is Brennon Wood and the team includes a newly-appointed Research Officer, Roxanne Henwood, and one PhD student. The extension programme features 8 day-long, science-based workshops to be held at Riverside, network surveys to collect local knowledge, an industry-sponsored Colloquium and an on-site Field Day.
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Date Range: 2015 - 2017

Funding Body: Ministry for Primary Industries

Project Team:

Completed Projects

Project Title: Effects of Compromised foetal growth

Since the initiation of the NRCGD we have shown we can manipulate fetal and adult phenotypes by applying various stressors during pregnancy. The next phase of our research is to discover the underlying mechanisms driving these changes which will (hopefully) enable their manipulation for animal health / production benefits. Tissues from our three animal paradigms (uterine capacity, nutrition during pregnancy and adolescent dam) will be examined using a variety of imaging and molecular techniques. The primary aims are to: describe the cascade of gene expression in early embryo development and how this is perturbed by different uterine capacities; investigate the presence and role of IGF-1, GH, their receptors and other target molecules in the development and differentiation of the fetal and mature mammary gland; examine molecular mechanisms mediating muscle growth and adipose deposition that lead to persistent changes in body composition; modulate nutritional programming of tissue growth and development by supplementing with specific micro-nutrients during critical developmental windows; show whether dam nutrition affects male and female offspring reproductive traits and whether these changes affect later generations through alterations to germ cells; use meta-analysis tools to quantify the effects of commonly-used nutritional interventions and also finding optimal length and timing of these interventions; develop and test new paradigms of farmer learning using the Massey farmlet trial.
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Date Range: 2004 - 2012

Funding Body: Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd < Meat and Wool New Zealand Ltd

Project Team:

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 0 13
CoSupervisor 8 19

Current Doctoral Supervision

CoSupervisor of:

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

CoSupervisor of:

  • 2017 - Lisanne Monique Fermin - PhD
    Pre-implantation maternal uterine effects on embryo growth and development: An investigation using models of maternal constraint in sheep
  • 2016 - Antoinette Simpah Danso - PhD
    Nutrient utilisation, growth and chemical body composition of pre-weaned lambs reared artificially: Effects of feeding milk replacer and pellets
  • 2015 - Amy May Paten - PhD
    Maternal nutritional programming in the sheep: Effects on post-natal growth, mammogenesis and lactation in adult-ewe offspring
  • 2015 - Maria Fernanda Pereira Loureiro - PhD
    Effects of ewe age on offspring development and performance
  • 2015 - Alfredo Andres Lepori Honeyman - PhD
    Genomic Selection for Traits of Economic Importance in New Zealand Sheep
  • 2014 - Asmad Binti Kari - PhD
    The effect of ewe nutrition during pregnancy on the reproductive system of the offspring
  • 2014 - Brielle Vastola Rosa - PhD
    Maternal Exercise During Pregnancy Affects the Rat Musculoskeletal System and Indicies of Energy Metabolism
  • 2010 - Rajesh Kumar Sharma - PhD
    The effects of uterine environment upon embryonic, fetal, neonatal and post-natal development and glucose metabolism in sheep
  • 2010 - Danitsja Stephanie van der Linden - PhD
    Ewe size and nutrition during pregnancy: Effects of metabolic and productive performance of the offspring
  • 2010 - Ryan Leith Sherriff - PhD
    Use of decision science to aid selection of genetically superior animals
  • 2009 - Keren Elizabeth Dittmer - PhD
    Inherited Rickets in Corriedale Sheep
  • 2008 - Susan Amanda Piripi - PhD
    Chondrodysplasia of Texel Sheep
  • 1999 - Mr Nicolas Lopez-Villalobos - PhD
    Effects of Crossbreeding and Selection on the Productivity and Profitability of the New Zealand Dairy Industry.
  • 1999 - Ms Hilary Margaret Burbidge - PhD
    Caudal Cervical Vertebral Malformation in the Dobermann Pinscher.
  • 1996 - Mrs Gisela Anna Marie Luise Ahlborn - PhD
    Aspects of Selection for Economic Merit in Dairy Cattle
  • 1995 - Mr Mariusz Tadeusz Skorupski - PhD
    Breeding Objectives and Genetic Evaluation to Improve Pig Farm Profitability
  • 1993 - Mr Stephen Todd Morris - PhD
    A Study of Out-of-Season Lamb Production Systems in the Lower North Island of New Zealand
  • 1991 - Zhenzhong Xu - PhD
    Endocrine and Genetic Control of Seasonal Breeding in Sheep

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