Research Partner: University of Bristol

Project Duration: March 2018 – February 2021

Category: Sheep

PhD Student: Andrew Jones

Sheep farming and its associated sectors contribute £2.4b to the UK economy and its existence is widely considered to be essential for the maintenance of ecosystem services and for providing economic livelihood for rural communities. Livestock production is also known to be a major contributor of Greenhouse gas emissions meaning that together with an increasing need for high quality food products, optimising Sheep production systems for maximum economic and environmental efficiency has never been more critical.

The aim of this study therefore is to develop a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that UK sheep producers can use as a way of measuring and improving the efficiency of their systems. Initially the development of indicators will be carried out at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP) located near Okehampton, Devon. The NWFP consists of three hydrologically isolated livestock farms managed under different strategies, which are highly instrumented to enable the collection of detailed production data.

Additional analysis will then be conducted on commercial farms selected from AHDB’s network to ascertain the validity and relevance of these measures outside of a research setting. Finally, the study will investigate the most appropriate way to communicate the benefit of using KPIs to commercial producers. This stage of the study is particularly crucial because regardless of the accuracy of the measures identified, implementation is dependent on how effectively the research findings are disseminated.