A GROUND-BREAKING research project aims to come up with a world first in lamb production.

Morrisons supermarket and the Scottish Rural University (SRUC) have joined forces to devise an Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) to use when cross-breeding lambs.

They have won funding from the Government’s Agri-Tech Strategy to develop the new tool - EBVs provide a measure of the breeding potential of farm animals for a specific trait.

The project will be carried out at The Morrisons Farm and Woodheads site in Aberdeenshire where more than 5,000 Suffolkcross lamb loins will be CT scanned to build a data bank to identify breeding animals offering higher eating quality and lower total carcase fat.

David Evans, Morrisons head of agriculture, said: “The vast majority of lamb farming worldwide involves the crossing of different breeds.

“This grant will help us develop an Estimated Breeding Value that works in cross breeding situations.

“We believe this is a world-first and will be of far more use than existing EBVs based on single breeds.”

Lambs with lower total carcase fat are more efficient they grow faster, eat smaller amounts and produce less greenhouse gases. They also require less fat to be trimmed both at the abattoir and on the plate improving the eating experience.