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NES2008 : Sustainable animal production systems

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Helen Gray
  • Lecturer: Dr Hannah Davis, Dr Fritha Langford
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of the module are to:
• provide an understanding of sustainable animal production, taking dairy, beef, sheep, pig, poultry and
selected fish sectors in the UK as examples of diverse animal production systems. For each sector, the scale
and contribution to UK animal protein, industry structure and production systems used will be considered and
set in the context of global production.
• consider the nature and potential of the UK grassland resource for ruminant livestock production.
• develop understanding of the specific management factors influencing the efficiency of production in each
animal sector. Students will obtain an understanding of the biological and economic inter-relationships u
underpinning animal production, and how challenges to sustainability are being addressed by producers in each
animal sector.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction: importance of animal production systems to UK agriculture. For each of the dairy, beef, sheep, pig, poultry and fish sectors, students will be given a description of the scale of production, industry structure, distribution of holdings within the UK and a comparison to EU/Global sectors.

UK grassland resource: its classification and factors affecting production including:
•       Physiology of growth and regrowth in grasses and legumes
•       Factors affecting sward composition, identification and agricultural characteristics of herbage species
•       Methods of grassland establishment
•       Nutrient requirements and their implications for fertiliser use

Efficiency of grassland utilization:
•       Matching supply and demand
•       Grazing management for dairy cattle, beef cattle and sheep
•       Principles and practices of silage and haymaking
•       Factors affecting efficiency of utilization of the hill and upland greenland resources

Animal production sectors:

1. Dairy systems
Products, quality and markets
Production cycles including reproduction, calving and culling
Systems and challenges to sustainability

2. Beef systems
Products, quality and markets
Systems of production - breeding herds and finishing options
Challenges to sustainability

3. Sheep systems
Products, quality and markets
Industry structure and integration
Systems - uplands and lowlands
Challenges to sustainability

4. Pig systems
Dry sow and service management
Farrowing sows and piglets
Weaner management and finishing systems
Addressing sustainability

5. Poultry systems
Parent flocks, hatcheries and pullet rearing
Egg laying - output, management, welfare and sustainability of production systems
Meat birds - broiler production and developments to address global food security

6. Fish systems
Output, management, welfare and sustainability of production systems for selected species typically including trout, salmon, tilapia and carp.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials361:0036:003-5 hours per week of lecture material
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Preparation and write up of final coursework
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Revision on ruminant and grassland. 10 min interview + 5 min feedback. Interview can be PiP or Zoom
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Teamwork presentation preparation and 15minute presentation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading135:0035:00Lectures will direct students reading and learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00PiP or Synchronous - To follow up on lecture content
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion31:003:00Conversations on Canvas
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork38:0024:00Fieldwork at Nafferton Farm and two other local farms. Online alternative provided where necessary
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study136:0036:00Writing up lecture notes and consolidation of learning
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Online lectures introduce students to the underlying topics of animal and plant science relating to sustainable animal production. The practical allows students to become familiar with the identification of different grass species. Field visits supplement the lectures to acquire a greater understanding of UK grassland management for ruminants, and the operation of selected sustainable animal production systems in the region. Guided reading helps students acquire additional information relevant to the lecture material.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination92M50Oral examination on animal production (individual) PiP no online submission required
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M50End of module written coursework (management plan)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MTeam presentation on sustainability of livestock production system at NU Farms
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The end-of-Semester written assessment assesses knowledge acquisition on the subject of animal production systems. The oral exam uses an ‘interview’ format to evaluate student’s knowledge of animal production systems and their ability to apply knowledge to answer questions on different scenarios. The group presentation assesses the ability of students to work in a team and brainstorm the challenge of feeding an increasing world population whilst safeguarding the environment and animal welfare, and in which students work on their ability to communicate a specified stakeholder view to their peers.

Reading Lists