School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Staff Profile

Gillian Butler

Senior Lecturer


I have worked with farmers in the NE for nearly 40 years, mainly offering advice to livestock producers on feeding and forage production. I have been with the university since 1997 and joined the Ecological Farming Group at Nafferton in 2002 to set up a consultancy centre for organic red meat production in a project funded by the DTI.

My current research is considering the impact of organic or low input management on product quality, primarily looking at animal fats; learning lessons how we can produce dairy produce, meat and eggs that are better for our health.

I teach undergraduate students, running a module Agriculture and the Environment for Agriculture and Environmental Science students, along with involvement on ruminant production and feed related modules. On the postgraduate area, I lead the livestock production module on the MSc in Organic farming and food production systems and have PhD students working on product quality in milk and eggs.

As a member of the Soil Association’s Farmer Grower Board and a committee member of Northumberland Organic Producers, Gillian is aware of issues facing organic producers, both locally and at a national level.


My research investigates the effects of management on animal health and product quality– also considering the potential impact on consumer health.  Generally less intensive production results in milk or meat likely to less damaging to our health and much of my research is to identify why then explore the scope to introduce key aspects of management into mainstream production systems.

Recent projects include:

DEFRA Sustainable Intensification Research Platform In practice the sustainable intensification of farming involves simultaneously increasing farm output and competitiveness, whilst protecting the countryside and enhancing the environment (see: ) Nafferton Farm is one of the 5 farming platforms involved in this key research.

ProPIG:  Reducing the environmental impact by improving health, welfare and nutrition of organic pigs  This is an European Union ERA-net CORE Organic II project, with co-ordinated research funding from individual member states.  UK contribution comes from DEFRA’s Animal Health and Veterinary laboratories Agency


 LowInputBreeds : Developing an integrated livestock breeding and management strategies to improve animal health, product quality and performance in European organic and ‘low input’ milk, meat and egg production.  Key facts and figures:

  • 5-year EU Collaborative Project, funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities
  • Contract No. 222623
  • 94 person-years of research
  • Over 60 scientists
  • 21 leading research and industrial organisations
  • 15 countries
  • 4 livestock species: cattle (dairy and beef), sheep (dairy and meat), pigs, poultry
  • Running from 2009-2014
  • Project coordination: Newcastle University and Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL



Undergraduate Teaching

Agriculture and the Environment (Module Leader)
Ruminant Livestock (Module Leader)
Animal Feed Technology
Rural Enterprise Diversification
Animal Welfare and Environment
Forage Utilisation


Post Graduate Teaching 

Ecological Livestock Production Systems (Module Leader)

Ecological Crop Production Systems 

Ecological and Sustainable Farming Standards and Quality Assurance