Beef research

We work to improve beef production from pastoral-based systems through scientific experimentation and working with industry and farmers. 

Our expertise


We have research into all areas of genetics and breeding, including quantitative and molecular genetics. Projects include feed efficiency, dairy beef and performance of breeding cows.


We are conducting research into improving systems to breed beef cow heifers efficiently and safely. Maintaining a yearly calving interval and examining means of reducing postpartum anoestrous. 


Our research has looked at alternative herbages for growing young cattle, and wintering systems for cows and growing young cattle.


We have research into developing health management approaches for optimal conception, calving and weaning rates.

Behaviour and welfare

Use of physiology and applied behaviour to improve cattle welfare, including pain alleviation and welfare during transport and slaughter.

Growth and meat science 

Ensuring cattle finished on pasture-based systems grow to the desired target carcass weight as quickly as possible, to meet carcass and meat-quality target parameters.

Key contacts

  • Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson

    Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson

    Associate Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics - School of Veterinary Science


  • Prof Stephen Morris

    Prof Stephen Morris

    Professor in Animal Science - School of Veterinary Science


Key Contacts

Case study: Making birth easier for cattle

Research into dystocia (birthing difficulty) in beef heifers was carried out with funding by Beef and Lamb NZ in response to industry interest. Dystocia causes significant economic loss to the beef and dairy industries.

We researched the potential to control dystocia using restricted feeding in early pregnancy. We conducted three years of field experiments in which we manipulated the liveweight gain of heifers and examined the size, growth and birthing difficulty of the resulting calves.

We found that feeding in early pregnancy did not influence the birth weight of calves.

This information means that farmers can base feeding decisions for their heifers on other relevant factors, with the knowledge that they are not affecting the likelihood of dystocia in their heifers.

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