Sheep research

Massey's International Sheep Research Centre advances scientific knowledge of sheep production, welfare, health and biology. We provide production, veterinary, management and consulting services to farmers, veterinarians, the sheep industry, and international agencies. 

Our expertise

Health

Improving sheep health also improves production. Our group consists of several veterinarian sheep experts, who collaborate with authorities in parasitology, pathology, microbiology and epidemiology. Research projects include investigation into infectious diseases (especially Brucella, Leptospira and Johne’s disease), control of internal parasites, reproductive loss, and genetic diseases.

Reproduction

Studies examining all-year-round lambing, managing multiples, hogget breeding, and fetal programming aim to increase lifetime reproduction per ewe.

We have expertise at both fundamental and applied levels.

Nutrition

Improving the nutrition of pregnant and lactating ewes can ensure higher lamb growth rates and survival to weaning. This is based on pasture-feeding systems, but we have researched alternative forages such as mixed herb and rye grass pastures grazed by pregnant and lactating ewes and finishing lambs.

Behaviour and welfare

Major areas investigated include pain and its alleviation in lambs and sheep, perinatal ewe and lamb behaviour, ewe temperament and behaviour, and stress caused by veterinary procedures.

Genetics

We study the use of animal breeding and genetics to improve the profitability of sheep-production systems. Recent studies have focused on defining breeding objectives, calculating economic values using farm models, examining the contribution of the major histocompatibility complex to disease resistance, and identification of mutations associated with inherited diseases.

Growth and meat

Improving live weight gains in lambs to achieve maximum carcass weight while ensuring carcass and meat traits and meat-eating quality are not compromised. We have researched lamb live-weight gains, carcass and meat quality on different forages. We have a fully equipped meat laboratory and consumer taste panels.

Contact

  • Prof Paul Kenyon

    Prof Paul Kenyon

    Head of Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences - Institute of Vet, Animal and Biomedical Sciences

    Email:

  • Prof Stephen Morris

    Prof Stephen Morris

    Professor in Animal Science - Institute of Vet, Animal and Biomedical Sciences

    Email:

Key Contacts

  • Prof Paul Kenyon

    Prof Paul Kenyon

    Head of Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences - Institute of Vet, Animal and Biomedical Sciences

  • Prof Stephen Morris

    Prof Stephen Morris

    Professor in Animal Science - Institute of Vet, Animal and Biomedical Sciences


CASE STUDY: All-year lamb production

Lamb production in New Zealand is seasonal, with most ewes lambing from August to October. But ewes have the potential to lamb out of the traditional season, potentially three times within two years. More frequent lamb production has the potential to increase farmer returns.  

Our studies identify management techniques to maximise ewe-breeding performance outside the normal period. Management guidelines have been developed for farmers. We also did a system comparison of two small farmlets to determine the feasibility of year-round lambing under New Zealand conditions.

This showed that all-year lambing is feasible and can be profitable, dependent on the price of out-of-season-born lambs.

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