• Parkgate, Barony Campus

    DG1 3NE Dumfries

    United Kingdom

  • Parkgate

    DG1 3NE Dumfries

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

1986 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Previous employer


Professor of Ruminant Nutrition & Production Systems; Head of Beef & Sheep Research Centre (2013-2017); Head of Dairy Research and Innovation Centre (2016-date): Interim Head of Future Farming Systems Group (2016-2019); SRUC: Scotland’s Rural College.


Principal Research Officer: Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research & Innovation Centre, Ireland. Head of Animal and Bioscience Research Department: (2009 to 2013).


Professor of Dairy Production: Lincoln University, New Zealand.


Senior Research Scientist (1993-1999), then Principal Research Scientist (1999-2005): IGER, Aberystwyth, UK. This appointment included periods as Group Leader: Feeding Strategies (1994-1995); Acting Head: Ruminant Nutrition Department (1995); Group Leader: Ruminant Nutrition (1996-2002); Team Leader: Nutrition and Microbiology (2002-2005).


Lecturer/Adviser Grade 3: Grassland and Ruminant Science Department, Scottish Agricultural College, UK. Honorary Lecturer: University of Glasgow.


Research Assistant Grade 1A: Department of Animal Husbandry, University of Bristol, UK.

Other work


Non-Executive Director of Agri-EPI Centre Ltd.: Agri-Tech Innovation Centre for precision agriculture and engineering.

Research interests

  • Substantial academic contributions at the interfaces between dairy nutrition, milk composition and rumen function - notably modelling of forage composition, dry cow feeding strategies, forages and fatty acids, fatty acids and fertility, and rumen diagnostics. 
  • Some work used directly by the animal feed industry – notably feed evaluation systems, feed values and dry cow strategies. Much more of my work has been used by farmers and advisers – notably to develop advice and models to predict and increase forage intakes, improve the utilisation of feed protein (reduce N pollution), improve milk composition, and facilitate the use of forage legumes in conventional and organic farming.
  • Current research is developing markers/proxies for digestive efficiency, feed efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions by ruminants – including through the use of gene-centric and 16S-based rumen metagenomics, as well as Nitrogen isotopic fractionation. I’m also involved in managing the long-running Langhill Dairy Cow breeding study, which is currently celebrating 50 years of activity.


Deputy Programme Director for MSc Animal Nutrition, distance learning.

Main Supervisor for 3 PhD students and Associate Supervisor for 5 PhD students.

External examiner (or Opponent) for PhDs awarded by Universities in: UK, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.



Jon Moorby (PhD; awarded 1993). Short and long-term effects of diet on the concentration of protein in the milk of dairy cows. Major supervisor, University of Glasgow.

Desy Rani (PhD; awarded 1998). Acidogenicity of feeds for dairy cows. Major supervisor, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Yupeng Liu (MAgrSci, awarded 2007). Rumen biohydrogenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in high quality pasture. Major supervisor, Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Ian Hutchinson (PhD, awarded 2011).  The effect of strategic supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids on the reproductive performance of lactating dairy cattle. Co-supervisor, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Long Cheng (PhD, awarded 2012). Diet effect on nitrogen partitioning and isotopic fractionation (δ15N) in ruminants. Associate supervisor, Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Christine McCartney (PhD, awarded 2013). Ether lipids as biomarkers for methanogenic archaea in the ruminant gastro-intestinal tract. Major supervisor, University of Bristol.

Nicole Wheadon (PhD, awarded 2014). Nitrogen isotopic fractionation and Nitrogen use efficiency in beef and dairy cattle. Major supervisor. Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Jenna Bowen (PhD, awarded 2017). High throughput approaches to evaluate between-animal variation in digestion of cattle. Major supervisor, Aberystwyth University.

Harry Kamilaris (PhD awarded 2020). Whole-farm modelling of specialist beef systems in Scotland and Ireland. Major supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Bridgit Muasa (PhD; awarded 2020). Monitoring the reproductive status of dairy cows using cow-side oestrus detection technologies. Associate supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Miguel Somarriba Soley (PhD, awarded 2020). The effects of stress on the ruminal microbial environment and its relationship to feed efficiency and methane emissions. Associate supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Aluna Chawala (PhD, awarded 2020). Investigation of farmer-led breeding goals and strategies in smallholder dairy farming systems to cope with variation in feed sources and quality. Associate supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Rhea Kyriazopoulou (PhD, thesis submitted 2020). Stress hormone effects on the ovine rumen microbiome. Major supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Riccardo Bica (PhD, thesis submitted 2020). Short-term measurements and proxies for ruminant methane emissions. Major supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Grace Smith (PhD thesis submitted 2020). Identification of on-farm recorded data for the prediction of disease in dairy cattle. Associate supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Joana Lima (PhD, commenced 2017). The use of networks of rumen microbial genes associated with performance traits for precision breeding and nutrition in beef cattle. Associate supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Tuan Quoc Nguyen (PhD, commenced 2018). Precision breeding for piglet survival and the use of microbiome information to improve wellness in pigs. Associate supervisor, University of Edinburgh.

Mengyuan Wang (PhD, commenced 2018). Integrated metagenomics analysis models to predict cattle phenotypes. Associate supervisor, University of Ulster.

Yixin Huang (PhD, commenced 2019). Associate supervisor, University of Glasgow.

Hassan Khanaki (PhD, commenced 2019). Development of 15N biomarker to estimate urinary nitrogen excretion (UN) and manure ammonia (NH3) emissions from sheep. Associate supervisor, University of Melbourne, Australia.


Principal Investigator:

EU (Horizon 2020): HoloRuminant: Understanding microbiomes of the ruminant Holobiont. (£684,000; October 2021 to September 2026).

Innovate UK: Identifying best sensor technologies to deliver verifiable health and welfare, environment and processing quality benefits for Dairy Products. £105,000 (October 2020 to March 2022).

Innovate UK (GCRF): Developing analytical and advisory networks to improve milk quality from smallholder dairy farms in Tanzania. £251,264 (October 2020 to March 2023).

DEFRA: Grant Funding for Co-Chair of Global Research Alliance – Livestock Research Group. £159,597 (January 2020 to December 2021).

DEFRA (ERA-GAS, SUSAN and ICT-AGRI): Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of pasture-based cattle systems. (£125,000; October 2019 to September 2022).

AHDB. Feed-into-Beef: Re-defining nutrition standards for improving beef production efficiency. Project leader for SRUC. (£282,495; April 2018 to March 2023).

European Regional Development Fund (Inter-REG Atlantic Area Programme). Dairy-4-Future: Propagating innovations for more resilient dairy farming in the Atlantic area. Project leader for SRUC (£270,000; January 2018 to December 2021).

European Union (Horizon 2020). SmartCow: an integrated infrastructure for increased research capability and innovation in the European cattle sector. Project leader for SRUC (€414,216; February 2018 to January 2022).

EU Horizon 2020 (Marie Sklodowska Curie Awards): Development of an easy-to-use metagenomics platform for agricultural science. Project leader for SRUC. (€72,000; April 2016 to November 2019).

Innovate UK/BBSRC (BB/N004795/1): Evaluating a potential proxy test for Feed Conversion Efficiency in beef cattle. £88,567; September 2015 to February 2017).


BBSRC (BB/S006567/1) Elucidating bovine host genomic links with rumen microbial genes to improve sustainably feed conversion efficiency using unique selection criteria. £386,677 (March 2019 to February 2022).

European Union. Legumes Translated.  £234,366 (November 2018 to October 2021).

Department for Business Innovation and Skills: Agri-Tech Innovation Centres (Agri-EPI Centre Ltd.): £17.5 million (February 2016 to March 2019).

BBSRC (BB/N01720X/1) Understanding the functional and genomic architecture of the rumen microbiome affecting performance traits in bovines. £376,351 (September 2016 to August 2019).

NERC (NE/N000935/1) Refinement of techniques and evaluation of options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant production systems in Brazil and the UK. £30,000 (January 2015 to October 2016).

DEFRA: Improving the sustainability and competitive position of the UK beef industry through selective breeding. (£210,000 for my team; April 2015 to September 2018).

Innovate UK/BBSRC (BB/M028275/1) Cow Health Monitor. £386,017 for SRUC (May 2015 to April 2018).

Innovate UK/BBSRC (BB/M027392/1) Precision Beef. £433,782 for SRUC (January 2015 to December 2017).

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Bristol

Oct 1984Dec 1989

Award Date: 1 Dec 1989

Bachelor, University of Oxford

Oct 1981May 1984

Award Date: 31 May 1984


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