NI research to investigate link between stock genetics and temperament

A Northern Ireland research project is hoping to examine the link between stock genetics and temperament in a bid to help farmers breed safer animals.

Over the last 20 years, more than a quarter of fatalities occurring on farms in the region have involved cattle, according to the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI).

The research project, dubbed ‘TemperGene’, will be carried out by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

It will be jointly funded by farmer-funded research body AgriSearch and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

A spokesman for AgriSearch said: “The industry has highlighted the importance of addressing health and safety concerns on livestock farms and a multi-faceted approach is required.

“Investigating the potential role that livestock genetics could play in improving farm safety is one avenue that is being explored.”

TemperGene

The ‘TemperGene’ project aims to investigate the effect of genetics and environment on cattle temperament.

It will also determine the potential for genetic selection of desirable behavioural characteristics to improve safety on-farm, as well as other favourable production traits.

Together with valuable contributions from key stakeholders in the livestock industry, AFBI has designed a survey targeted at all cattle farmers across Northern Ireland.

The aim of the survey is to capture the number and severity of “near-misses” which may not have been recorded in the HSENI statistics during the last year.

It will also examine farmers’ decisions regarding cattle breeding and management to improve health and safety on farm. Delivery of the survey will be facilitated by AgriSearch and all data provided will be treated anonymously and confidentially.

With questions specific to suckler, dairy and bull-beef farmers, the survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Farmers, farm workers and farm family members who wish to take part can find the survey online here.