Moos, Views, and Ewes

We started today’s adventures bright and early with a stop at the Scotland’s Rural College Easter Howgate Farm. The farm features top of the line equipment and has a focus on livestock research. We met with Jamie Newbold, an Academic Director for SRUC to learn more about their research. They have trials that study feed efficiency,greenhouse gas emissions, genetics, and more.

Some of their equipment includes respiration chambers to measure gas emissions, feed tubs that track feed intake for each animal,and wearable sensors such as ear tag thermometers that can help detect illness. We were all impressed by all of the details that make Easter Howgate farm a leader in livestock research. We were later invited to the opening of SRUC’s new avian research center. Here broilers and turkeys will be studied for production efficiency, behavior, welfare, quality, and animal health. It was interesting to discuss the differences in production with event attendees from Scotland. Ryan, Zach and I even got to hear views about UK issues such as Brexit from our fellow tour group members.

Here is an example of a behavior study for broilers. It tests how likely the birds are to prioritize comfortably over feed.

Later, we had the opportunity to tour the King’s Buildings of SRUC’s campus. Much of SRUC’s endeavors are aimed towards education, consulting, and research. In fact, they consult with approximately 75% of Scotland’s active farmers. They are also the fastest growing college in the UK with 6 campuses, 848 further education students and 1516 higher education students.

To end the day, we tried our best to avoid sheep “landmines” in search of some beautiful views, and wow was is worth it!

Above is a photo of Scottish Blackface sheep at Eastside Farm in the Pentland Hills, about a half hour drive outside of Edinburgh. Eastside farm is about 1,230 hectares or over 3,000 acres that is home to about 1,880 sheep! Alistair Cowan shared how Brexit could negatively impact sheep farmers in the UK as there is not a strong market for the wool or the meat in the UK and much of both are exported. He explained that his farm has started to prepare by selling timber and by renovating former barns into cottages. We enjoyed roaming the farm, taking pictures, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Dr.Buck had to drag us all back onto the bus because none of us were ready to leave. I’m very tired but I’m excited to visit St.Andrews tomorrow!

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