Animal Systems Research Group

Who we are and what we do

The Animal Systems group consists of scientists studying more efficient ways of producing high quality animal products with emphasis on ruminants (dairy, beef and sheep). The group also special specialises in companion equine science. The group has expertise in animal nutrition, animal genetics, farm animal systems including economics and equine nutrition, behaviour and reproduction.


  • Environment:  the aim of this area is to carry out research on ways of minimising the environmental impact of farm livestock while maintaining a productive landscape.  Current research projects include investigations into methane emissions from sheep and cattle to establish emission factors for a new UK GHG inventory, dietary feed components and additives to reduce methane emissions, and management strategies to reduce nitrogen excretion.
  • Livestock and Consumer Health: the aim of this area is the utilisation and development of feeding systems that will improve the health of the animal and the quality of the animal product which will ultimately result in a healthier consumer. Such work involves the increase in the deposition of beneficial fatty acids in to animal products and the reduction of pathogens in the food chain.
  • Agricultural Systems: the aim is to develop innovative agricultural systems to deliver improvements in agricultural productivity, environmental protection, economic stability and animal health. Research focus includes the optimisation of nutrient use from soil to animal products within low-input, high-forage ruminant livestock systems – with a specific objective of reducing reliance on imported feeds, fertilisers and veterinary pharmaceuticals.  
  • Equine: primary research areas include: microbial diversity and change within the equine gut, factors that affect this microbial population and their interrelationship to equine health and performance; genetic diversity within and between equine breeds, link to evolutionary development and selection by mankind; conception and early equine pregnancy, follicular development, multiple ovulation, multiple pregnancy, early embryo mortality, early pregnancy diagnosis and assessment of pregnancy viability; biomechanics; monitoring of pressure distribution on the horse’s back.  Colleagues support taught degree programmes from Foundation degree to M.Sc. in Equine Studies/Science and research degrees M.Phil. and Ph.D.



Group Leader: Dr Christina Marley (Reader; agricultural systems)

Group Administrator: Diane Jones

Dr Basil Wolf (Senior Lecturer; animal breeding; sheep production)
Dr Debbie Nash (Lecturer; equine reproduction; equine exercise physiology)
Dr Jon Moorby (Reader; dairy systems; environmental impact)
Dr Mariecia Fraser (Reader in Upland Agroecosystems; upland animal systems; land use)
Dr Michael Rose (Reader, Director of Learning and Teaching; dairy systems and lactation)
Dr Mina Davies-Morel (Reader; Deputy Director postgraduate studies; M.Sc. Equine Science and Animal Science Course Coordinator)
Prof. Jamie Newbold (Professor, rumen microbiology)
Dr Neil McEwan (Lecturer in Animal and Equine Science; microbial diversity)
Dr Pip Nicholas-Davies (Research Associate/Associate Lecturer; socio-economics; farm systems)

Animal, land, equine and administration teams

Liz Humphreys - Project Manager
Hannah Appleton - Equine Centre Manager, Instructor BHS II
Shelly Buffrey - Equine Centre Practical Instructor, BHSAI IntSM
Vince Theobald - Animal technical support
Rhun Fychan - Animal, agronomy and silage technical support
John Davies - Animal technical support
Martin Leyland - Animal technical support
Naomi Gordon - Animal technical support
David Leemans - Laboratory technical support
John Tweed - Laboratory technical support
Jan Newman - Project Co-ordinator

Examples of our work  include:


Our main sources of funding for large projects are: the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Welsh Government, Innovate UK and the European Union (EU). We also have a wide range of industrial collaborators from small and medium enterprises to large multinational corporations, with whom we undertake collaborative research, development, demonstration and commercialisation as well as carrying out contract research and consultancy.