Robert Fleming  -  Efficiency Gains Through Improved Beef Genetics

Alan and Anne Beckett Award

I farm near Glenluce in South-West Scotland, 12 miles from Stranraer and 15 from the ferry port of Cairnryan. We run 240Ha of grassland running from sea level to 74m above. With a long growing season, we aim to take maximum advantage of growth from grass.

Our 250 suckler cow herd is based on Angus genetics, running as a closed herd. We calve our heifers down at 2 yrs of age, focusing on easy fleshing maternal traits. Our system is to sell all male progeny store from 10- 14 months ,as well as surplus breeding heifers and 10 Angus bulls a year, all run on forage based commercial  lines. We also run a flock of 75 pedigree Roussin ewes and bring on 450- 600 wintering sheep.

As of 2015 we will become Scotland’s first Agrii iFarm for Forage. We will be trialling grass seed mixes and reseeding methods, with the long term goal of supplying all dietary requirements for the herd on farm.

I am 33 years old and married Claire in June ’14. Applying for my Nuffield scholarship was an opportunity to not only find the answers to questions on animal efficiency but allow me to consider a new direction and give a little back to the beef industry.

I must thank my sponsors Anne and Alan Beckett for their support and the opportunity this has given me.


  • Project Details

It is my belief that considerable gains in efficiency are possible by focusing on traits and performance on an individual animal basis, improving overall herd performance. With the consumer becoming concerned over sustainability, carbon footprint and methane emissions and industry pressure from international beef imports we must insure we stay at the forefront of advances  in genetics.

I want to find out how the global beef industry is evolving and making most use of genomics and residual feed intake data. I wish to meet the breeders, researchers and commercial farmers as they use advances in science and research to breed animals of superior genetic merit. I shall evaluate the place in the UK beef industry for this technology and assess the financial benefits.

My scholarship will see me travel to Canada, North America, Australia and New Zealand as I look to trace feed efficiency advances from research and trials to the beef farmer.