Dr Joanne Conington

Scotland's Rural College

Research Interests

  • Genetic and environmental influences on sheep and goat production, performance, health and survival
  • Development and implementation of broader breeding goals and indices for sustainable hill sheep production
  • Genetics of maternal traits in sheep and goats
  • Quantitative and molecular genetic solutions for disease control in small ruminants

Research Projects

  • Efficient goat breeding for sustainable milk production (Technology Strategy Board) 2012-2015
  • Genetic analysis of longevity in sheep (EBLEX) 2014-2015
  • Genetics of lamb survival - Phase 1 and Phase 2 (EBLEX) 2013-2015
  • Involved in EU-funded Animal Welfare indicators (AWIN) project (PI Cathy Dwyer), by undertaking Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) of footrot in Texel sheep
  • Breeding for reduced faecal egg count in sheep (Scottish Government) 2012-2016
  • Impact of breeding indices on greenhouse gas emissions in sheep (Scottish Government) 2012-2016
  • Understanding biological trade-offs in sheep systems (Scottish Government) 2012-2016
  • Breeding for resistance to footrot: combining molecular and phenotypic approaches (Defra LINK) 2005-2008
  • Genetic and phenotypic aspects of shelly hoof (Defra LINK) 2008-2009
  • Breeding for resistance to footrot in Welsh Mountain sheep (Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) & Biosciences KTN) 2007-2008
  • Developing a molecular approach to breed mastitis-resistant Texels (Biosciences KTN) 2007
  • Breeding easier-managed sheep (Biosciences KTN) 2006

Selected Publications


  • McLaren, A., Lambe, N.R., Morgan-Davies, C., Mrode, R., Brotherstone, S., Conington, J., and Bünger L.  (2014) . Characterisation of UK terminal sire sheep farm systems, based on a range of environmental factors: A case study in the context of genotype by environment interactions using Charollais lambs. In Press:  Animal  doi:10.1017/S175173111400072X
  • McLaren, A., Brotherstone, S., Lambe, N.R., Conington, J. Mrode , R., & Bünger, L.  (2014)  Reaction norm analysis of Texel sheep performance in different farm environments. Submitted to Animal
  • McLaren, A., Lambe, N.R., Brotherstone, S., Conington,J., Mrode R, & Bünger L. (2014) Genotype by Environment interactions in sheep; defining farm environments using hierarchical clustering. In Press  Animal
  • Mucha, S. Mrode, R. Coffey, M. and Conington, J. (2014). Estimation of genetic parameters for milk yield across lactations in mixed breed dairy goats. J Dairy Sci. 97:4  2455-2461
  • Clelland, N., Bunger, L., McLean, K.A., Conington, J., Maltin, C., Knott, S and Lambe, N.R. (2014) Prediction of intramuscular fat levels in Texel lamb loins using x-ray computed tomography scanning. Submitted to Animal


  • Lambe, N.R., Wall, E., Ludemann, C.I., Bunger L. and Conington, J., (2013). How much is genetic improvement worth for hill sheep – and what impact does this have on their greenhouse gas emissions? In Press Small Rum. Res
  • Cottle, D.J. and Conington, J. (2013). Reducing methane emissions by including methane production or feed intake in genetic selection programmes for Suffolk sheep. J Agric Sci doi:10.1017/S0021859612001037


  • McLaren, A., Lambe, N.R., Brotherstone, S., Conington, J., Mrode R, & Bünger L. (2012). Investigation into the presence of genotype by environment interactions (GxE) in Scottish Blackface lamb traits. Small Ruminant Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.2011.12.002
  • Cottle, D.J. and Conington, J. (2012). Breeding for reduced methane emissions in extensive UK sheep systems. J. Agric. Sci. doi:10.1017/S0021859611000967


  • Doeschl-Wilson A., Davidson R., Conington J., Roughsedge, T., Hutchings M.R., and Villanueva, B. (2011). Implications of Host Genetic Variation on the Risk and Prevalence of Infectious Diseases Transmitted Through the Environment. Genetics. doi:10.1534/genetics.110.125625


  • Conington J., Nicoll, L., Mitchell, S. and Bünger, L. (2010). Characterisation of white line degeneration in sheep and evidence for genetic influences on its occurrence. Veterinary Research Communications. Doi: 10.1007/s11259-010-9416-z
  • Conington J., Collins, J. and Dwyer, C.M. (2010).  Breeding easier managed sheep. Animal Welfare 19(S):83-92
  • D'Eath R.B., Conington J., Lawrence A.B., Olsson I.A.S. and Sandøe, P. (2010). Breeding for behavioural change in farm animals: practical and ethical considerations. Animal Welfare 19(S) :17-27


  • Nieuwhof, G.J., Conington, J. and Bishop, S.C. (2009). A genetic epidemiological model to describe resistance to an endemic bacterial disease in livestock: application to footrot in sheep. Genetics Selection Evolution 41:19. d.o.i: 10.1186/1297-9686-41-19


  • Lambe N.R., Conington, J., Bishop, S.C., McLean, K.A., Bünger, L., McLaren, A. and Simm, G. (2008). Relationships between lamb carcass quality traits measured by X-ray computed tomography and current UK hill sheep breeding goals. Animal 2, 36-43
  • Conington, J,, Hosie, B., Nieuwhof, G.J., Bishop, S.C., and Bünger, L. (2008). Breeding for resistance to footrot – the use of hoof scoring to quantify footrot in sheep. Veterinary Research Communications 14 May 2008. doi:10.1007/s11259-008-9062-x.  ISSN= 0165-7380 (Print) 1573-7446 (Online)
  • Nieuwhof, G.J., Conington, J., Bünger, L., and Bishop, S.C. (2008) Genetic and phenotypic aspects of resistance to footrot in sheep of different breeds and ages. Animal 2 issue 9: 1289-1296
  • Conington, J., Cao, G., Stott , A. and Bünger, L. (2008) Breeding for resistance to mastitis in United Kingdom sheep – a review and economic appraisal. Veterinary Record 162: 369-376 March 22nd


  • Lambe, N.R., Bünger, L., Bishop, S.C., Simm, G. and Conington J. (2007). The effects of selection indices for sustainable hill sheep production on carcass composition and muscularity of lambs, measured using X-ray computed tomography. Animal 2: 27-35
  • Sawalha, R.M., Brotherstone, S., Conington, J., Villanueva, B. (2007) Lambs with Scrapie Susceptible Genotypes Have Higher Postnatal. Survival. PLoS ONE 2(11): e1236. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001236
  • Amer, P.R., Nieuwhof, G.J.,  Pollott, G.E., Roughsedge, T., Conington, J. and Simm, G. 2007. Industry benefits from recent genetic progress in sheep and beef populations in the UK.  Animal 1:10, pp 1414–1426. doi: 10.1017/S175173110700078X
  • Sawalha, R.M., Conington, J., Brotherstone, S. and Villanueva, B. (2007) Analysis of lamb survival of Scottish Blackface sheep. Animal 01, 1. Pp151-157
  • Sawalha, R.M., Brotherstone, S., Man, W.Y.N., Conington, J., Bünger, L. Simm, G. and Villanueva, B. (2007). Associations of plymorphisms of the ovine prion protein gene with growth, carcass and computerised tomography traits in Scottish Blackface lambs. J. Animal Science 85:632-640


  • Conington, J., Bishop, S.C., Lambe, N., Bunger L. and Simm, G. (2006) Testing new selection indices for sustainable hill sheep production  - lamb growth and carcass traits.  Animal Science. 82: 4: 445-453
  • Lambe, N. R., Conington, J., McLean, K.E. Navajas, E., Fisher, A.V. and Bünger, L. (2006). In-vivo prediction of internal fat weight in Scottish Blackface lambs, using computer tomography (CT). Z. Tierz. Züchtungsbiol. / J. Animal Breeding and Genetics 123: 105-113


  • Lambe, N.R., Brotherstone, S., Young, M.J., Conington, J. and Simm, G. (2005). Genetic relationships between seasonal tissue levels in Scottish Blackface ewes and lamb growth traits Animal Science 81:1 p11-21


  • Conington, J., Bishop, S.C., Waterhouse, A. and Simm, G. (2004). A bio-economic approach to derive economic values for pasture-based sheep genetic improvement programmes. Journal of Animal Science 82: 1290-1304
  • Lawrence, A.B.L., Conington, J. and Simm, G. (2004) Breeding and animal welfare: practical and theoretical advantages of multi-trait selection. Animal Welfare 13:191-196


  • Conington, J. and Murphy, A. (2003) A genetic analysis of wool characteristics and lamb performance traits in Scottish Blackface sheep. Animal Science, 77, 3, p355-362
  • Lambe, N.R., Young, M.J., Brotherstone, S., Kvame,T., Conington, J, Kolstad, K. and Simm, G. (2003) Body tissue changes in Scottish Blackface ewes during one annual production cycle. Animal Science 76:211-219
  • Lambe, N.R., Young, M.J., McLean, K.A., Conington, J. and  Simm, G. (2003) Prediction of total body tissue weights in Scottish Blackface ewes using CT scanning. Animal Science 76:191-197


  • Lambe, N R., Conington, J., Bishop, S. C., Waterhouse, A. and Simm, G. (2001).  A Genetic analysis of maternal behaviour score in Scottish Blackface sheep. Animal Science 72,  415-425
  • Conington, J; Bishop, S C; Grundy, B; Waterhouse, A; Simm, G (2001).  Sustainable, multi-trait selection indexes for UK hill sheep.   Animal Science 73,.(3) 413 - 424


  • White, P.C.L., Groves, H.L., Savery, J.R., Conington, J. and Hutchings, M.R. (2000). Fox predation as a cause of lamb mortality on hill farms. The Veterinary Record 147, 33-37
  • Conington, J.E. (2000).  The Genetic Improvement of Carcass and Maternal Traits in Scottish Blackface Sheep. PhD Thesis, University  of Edinburgh


  • Conington, J., Bishop, S. C., Waterhouse, A. and Simm, G. (1998).  A comparison of growth and carcass traits in Scottish Blackface lambs sired by genetically lean or fat rams. Animal Science 67,  p299-309
  • Bishop, S. C., Conington, J., Waterhouse, A. and Simm, G. (1996).  Genotype X environment interactions for early growth and ultrasonic measurements in hill sheep.   Animal Science    62,  p271-277
  • Simm, G., Conington, J., Bishop, S.C., Dwyer, C.M., and Pattinson, S. (1996). Genetic selection for extensive conditions. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 49: 47-59
  • Conington, J., Bishop, S.C., Waterhouse, A., and Simm, G. (1995). A genetic analysis of early growth and ultrasonic measurements in hill sheep. Animal Science 61:85-93