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New research and development project manager joins Texel Sheep Society

The Texel Sheep Society is delighted to announce the appointment of Ed Smith as R&D Projects Manager for the latest phase of its innovative and near market research.

Dr Smith was previously a senior research fellow with experience of managing sheep projects at Warwick University. His earlier work included the Society’s initial lameness and mastitis in sheep work, along with AHDB and BBSRC supported research. He joins the Texel Society in late-January to oversee two new projects and drive applied R&D initiatives at a National breed level.

The first of these projects starting in February is a £1.6m project part funded by Innovate UK Agri-Tech Catalyst, aimed at accelerating developments in sheep breeding and the commercial application of video image analysis (VIA) to sheep production. Meanwhile, the second project, a £1.5m initative, will aim to identify sires that produce crossbred lambs with favourable levels of intramuscular fat. This will potentially reduce waste and increase taste, improving meat quality while maintaining production efficiencies.

Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates said the Society was extremely pleased to welcome Ed Smith to the Texel team. “I am confident he will help further define and drive the Society influence in UK industry. He has a wealth of experience on the topics being studied and has already worked with many of our flocks.

“Driving innovation and collaborating with major players in the UK R&D and meat processing industry is extremely important to us. These projects are catalysts to improving systems, communication and knowledge transfer throughout the supply chain.

“Of course the Society’s ultimate aim is to help ensure we have a viable UK sheep industry while supporting UK Texel breeders with the tools and information required to identify the top performing Texel sires to meet industry requirements. Ed’s appopintiment will certainly help us on this journey.”

Dr Smith said he was thrilled to be joining the Society at such an exciting time and was looking forward to leading two ground-breaking projects about to get underway.

“Without doubt both of these projects have the potential to have significant impact on the sheep industry and particularly the breeding of terminal sires best suited to producing lambs of the type required by the modern retail industry.”

“The development and implementation of genomics in the sheep sector isn’t going to be as fast-paced as it has been in the dairy sector, but it is a technology which when used correctly can have a major influence on future breeding goals and the Texel Society have had the initative to position themselves for its exploitation.”

Mr Yates said the appointment of Dr Smith as projects manager was one which would bring a number of benefits, not least his experience in managing large scale genetic research projects. “This new role within the Society is one which will be key to coordinating and driving the Society’s latest research projects in conjunction with the Society’s Breed Development Plan, both of which have significant potential for both the Texel breed and the wider sheep industry.

“There is currently a significant disconnect between carcass slaughter data and the breeding sector which provides the genetics for commercial sheep producers. Detailed slaughter data has significant value in driving selection decisions further up the breeding pyramid in the pedigree sector and our aim is to support the creation of industry systems that allow for its exploitation at a breed level,” added Mr Yates.

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