Ruminants ‘vital to world food security’

NFU Scotland’s president Nigel Miller has highlighted the crucial role that cattle and sheep will play in Scotland’s contribution to tackling world food security concerns.

Mr Miller has outlined the ability of cattle and sheep to produce protein from grass and the contribution that improvements in animal health, many of them generated at Moredun, have made to the productivity of Scotland, the UK and world livestock farming.

He said: “Food security is undoubtedly one of the big challenges ahead for mankind – both in economic and moral terms.

“The current and future demand for food will impact on every agricultural area in the world and the contribution that they must make to food requirements.

“In many ways, climate and geography means that we have limited options on food production here in Scotland but a relatively reliable level of rainfall does allow us to focus on the crops we can grow well – particularly grass. Scotland’s cattle and sheep continue to generate high value protein from grass – a crop of little nutritional benefit to the human race – and livestock production is always likely to be the cornerstone of our contribution to food production.

“If our livestock farmers are going to get real benefit out of keeping cattle and sheep then we need a platform of good animal health to allow us to achieve optimum productivity.

“We need to keep using tools such as recording the performance of our livestock and targeting nutrition to make sure we make the most out of an increasingly valuable resource across the animal’s whole lifetime.

“Work taking place here at Moredun contributes not only to animal health improvements in Scottish livestock but has regularly delivered benefits to producers world-wide. On the cattle front, Moredun is driving forward the way we will tackle costly production diseases such as neosporosis and Johne’s. In sheep, Moredun work on sheep parasites has brought forward smarter ways of using wormers and the potential to build on wormer vaccine development.”