Sheep research

Massey University works to advance 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.

Research expertise

Sheep reproduction and breeding

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.


Sheep 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.


Sheep health and management

Improving sheep health improves production.Our veterinarian sheep experts in this area 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.


Sheep growth and production

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.


Sheep genetics

Our expertise is in 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.


Sheep dairying

Sheep dairying is an exciting new dairy industry for Aotearoa/New Zealand. We are undertaking research into manufacturing technologies. and new foods, which includes research into sheep dairy genetics, breeding, disease mitigation and environmental performance.


Sheep 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.


Meat processing

Research in meat science and technology is focussed upon production and processing factors that influence the textural and flavour properties of meat, refrigeration and packaging systems and on the identification and extraction of bioactive components from meat. Research is also carried out on further processed meat products and pet foods.

These research programmes cover the beef, pork and sheep meat sectors.


Research projects


Animal Genetic Services

Massey University’s Equine Parentage and Animal Genetics Services Centre offers the most comprehensive range of DNA-based genetic testing for animals in New Zealand.

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Farm Services Clinic

Massey University’s Farm Services Clinic provides on-farm treatment for all farm animals as well as in-clinic consultations as required. We have a large animal hospital in Palmerston North providing ongoing care as well as advanced diagnostic imaging, intensive care and surgery for our patients.

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Massey Farms

Working with industry and research partners, Massey Farms run research and trials in areas of significance to science, the industry and consumer. There are eight farms as part of the group, including conventional and organic dairy units, sheep, beef and deer breeding units and a mixed enterprise/grazing/cropping unit over 2000 hectares.

Massey Farms


Massey works closely with industry across our areas of expertise, partnering on funding research and equipment to produce knowledge that is relevant and useful to industry and to progress scientific work. Key partners in our sheep research are:

Animal expertise

Find out more about research, facilities, research degrees, services and resources to do with other production animal specialities at Massey University.

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