ANIMAL SCIENCE graduate Rachel Gateley has won the Texel Sheep Society award for her final degree project.

The 22-year-old from Balerno was awarded the society's Educational Award for Best Honours Dissertation on a sheep-related topic, having graduated from Scotland’s Rural College last month, where she studied the use of newly available technology to investigate differences in feeding behaviour between Lleyn and Scottish Blackface sheep.

She said: “I was honestly so shocked and grateful to receive the Texel Sheep Society award for my dissertation. Throughout my project I didn’t once consider the award – I was too busy sorting data – so to be recognised for my work on a subject which could hopefully benefit the industry was great.

“It also made all the difficulties and disasters – including smashing my memory stick – faced during those months worth it. I’d like to thank my supervisors Dr Nicola Lambe and Dr Ann McLaren for all their support and input.”

Dr McLaren said: “I’m delighted that Rachel’s hard work throughout her project has been recognised through this award from the Texel Sheep Society. The study was one of the first to assess individual sheep feeding behaviour using newly available technology and a number of findings from Rachel’s dissertation will hopefully go on to be extremely useful in future research projects."

It was Rachel’s love of animals that led her to study at SRUC’s Edinburgh campus: “I come from an equine background, having been around horses since the age of four, but I have always had a keen interest in animals and the agricultural industry,” she said. “After hearing about SRUC at school, I looked into the Applied Animal Science degree and it sounded perfect as it allowed me to combine the knowledge I already had with lots of new information, and it was mainly animal-based.”

Looking to the future, Rachel is hoping to end up in the nutrition industry – with either an equine or ruminant focus: “With this course, your employment opportunities are endless and as such I now need to try and narrow it down,” she said.