Retired Member Focus – Ian Lane

13 Aug 2021

Ian Lane joined BSAS in 1968, following a recommendation from his PhD Supervisor at Wye College - Prof Bill Holmes. The Society at the time, as it is now, was considered ‘the’ place to meet professionals and scientists in animal science and production and to broaden one’s perspective, an aspect that was especially important for Ian – given the necessarily narrow nature of PhD studies. He became a retired member in 2015. 

Ian has had a long and rich career in the field of animal science, focusing on international development in range and pasture management, fodder production and conservation, agroforestry, ruminant production, and animal nutrition – in tropical and temperate countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Initially his research was more technically orientated, but over time

Ian was fortunate to have studied agriculture under Prof Ian Lucas at Bangor in the 1960s just at the time when he was helping to develop the UK Metabolizable Energy System as a feed rationing system for ruminants. His class was the first to understand the system, and half went into research, mainly in animal science, and BSAS meetings provided a forum for Ian and his fellow students/animal scientists, to get together. Subsequently while teaching range management, tropical pastures and animal production at both Edinburgh and Cranfield Universities, BSAS annual meetings provided Ian with a place to meet leaders in ruminant nutrition who had developed an alternative feeding system for ruminant production in the tropics – instead of feed rationing or balancing, this was based on taking the basic roughage available such as rice straw, and determining how to best supplement it with minerals, nitrogen, bypass nutrients and green fodder supplements. A memorable BSAS meeting that Ian recalls, was held in Harrogate, where the three wise men of tropical ruminant nutrition – Bob Orskov, Ron Leng and Reg Preston – presented this system, which Ian continues to use in his teaching and consultancy to the present.

In addition, there have also been a number of other methodologies that Ian has been able to adopt, or make reference to, as a result of meeting academics and professionals at meetings and reading their work in BSAS publications – these include the use of gas production for estimation of the rate and extent of rumen degradation of forages, and estimation of the impact of anti-nutritive compounds in tree fodder.

Since retirement Ian continues to attend meetings on occasion, where he enjoys catching up with past colleagues and follows their work with interest. Having been a university teacher, he finds it is always good to talk with postgrad students who have come to present their work as oral or poster papers, to keep them on their toes regarding their experimental design and statistical analysis! Ian also particularly enjoyed the fantastic programme of online symposia/webinars concerning innovations in smart techniques for animal production and grassland, describing them as both informative and stimulating.

Another important benefit of having a BSAS membership for Ian, has been receiving the animal journal, as it has allowed him to keep abreast not only with the science itself, but with the trends in which animal science is heading. Ian highly values his BSAS Membership and would say to anyone thinking of joining the Society:

‘Go for it, the benefits will far outweigh the costs! Do read the journal, do attend meetings, and do ask questions of the speakers – don’t rely on others to ask the questions that you know you want to ask – because the rest of the audience will also just remain silent.’