Scotland’s Rural College
W Mains Rd
Mike is a Professor of Livestock Informatics and Team Leader for Animal Breeding & Genomics at SRUC. His main research area of interest is dairy cattle breeding and identification of appropriate selection goals that meet as many stakeholders requirements as possible. The number of traits incorporated into the selection goal for all species is increasing which brings challenges when traits have unfavourable correlations. Of particular note is the mobilization of body energy by dairy cows - some is desirable since it adds to efficiency in both economic and environmental terms. Too much mobilisation creates unwanted correlated responses in fertility, health and welfare and concomitant losses in environmental impact efficiency. Balancing traits according to their value requires economic values that are intriguing to calculate when the trait has societal value. The construction of overall indices is an area of great interest since it alone produces the change in the national dairy cattle population. Bringing component science into systems work has unique aspects of interest especially in identifying where tradeoffs have to occur and what the magnitude of the tradeoff is.
Getting research results out to farmers and causing (positive) change in their behaviour as a result produces personal rewards especially as their profit increases. Genomic selection is an infant technology and only time will tell how successful it will ultimately be. Improving tools over time will be required. Overall, genetic selection that includes any phenotype is of interest in all species. Determining the best route to market in the shortest time also brings different, but interesting nonetheless, challenges.