Dorothy Robinson

Research interests

  • Analysis and interpretation of complex data
  • Genetics
  • Livestock methane emissions and feed efficiency
  • Estimation and use of variance components
  • Experimental design
  • Health and environmental issues


Dorothy’s current interests include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving efficiency of Livestock. The two are often treated as separate issues. Dorothy’s 2016 research paper “Benefits of including methane measurements in selection strategies”, argues that the correlation between methane production and feed intake is so strong that selecting animals with high production but low methane emissions also improves efficiency – a notoriously difficult trait to measure – because feed intake relative to production is also reduced. The importance of this work was recognised by its listing as one of 8 Section Editors’ favourites, from about 600 papers published every year by the Journal of Animal Science.

Previous research includes the development of one of the first general-purpose programs using REML methodology to estimate variance components and predict fixed and random effects, design of complex integrated research projects to estimate numerous treatment and genetic effects over several years, genetics of feed efficiency and methane emissions in ruminants, reducing bias and increasing accuracy of measurements in experiments, methodology to optimise multi-stage selection systems, assessing and understanding errors and variability in small-plot variety trials, and designing experiments to account for spatial and temporal variability (e.g. variety trials).

Dorothy was responsible for the design of the entire series of experiments in the first Australian Beef Cattle CRC – achieving similar accuracy of sire and treatment estimates without sophisticated designs would have required 5–10% more animals costing (when all expenses and overheads are included) an additional $0.5-$1 million.

Obtaining accurate and useful results from statistical models depends on understanding the errors and biases inherent in the models. Dorothy’s research showed that estimates of the direct-maternal genetic correlation have considerable negative bias if models do not allow for sire x environment interactions. She also investigated and recommended procedures to avoid bias in regression coefficients, and showed that accreditation systems for ultrasound scanners should take account of errors in measuring carcases, variation between the animals’ left and right sides, as well as errors inherent in taking scans.

Dorothy is a consultant biometrician/geneticist at the Armidale Beef Industry Centre. She joined the DPI after working as deputy head of Stats (M4) at RAF Innsworth and previously as a consultant statistician at the Scottish Agricultural Statistics Service at the University of Edinburgh. Dorothy has published over 100 scientific papers in journals and conference proceedings, about two thirds as senior author.  Most were peer-reviewed.


  • B Sc (First Class Honours)
  • PhD (Statistics/Genetics)

Current projects

  • Genetics of methane emissions in ruminants and determining the best measurement protocol
  • Genetics of muscling and relationship to maternal productivity and other traits in beef cattle
  • Major gene effects on growth and meat quality data in tropical and temperate breed cattle
  • Experimental design and analysis of complex research projects

Recent publications

According to Google Scholar, Dorothy’s publications have been cited a total of 2,319 times, including several papers with over 100 citations.

Selected titles

Robinson, D.L., M. Cameron, A. J. Donaldson, S. Dominik, and V.H. Oddy (2016). One hour portable chamber methane measurements are repeatable and provide useful information on feed intake and efficiency. Journal of Animal Science, 94:4376-4387 doi:0.2527/jas.2016-0620.

Robinson, D.L. and V.H. Oddy (2016).  Benefits of including methane measurements in selection strategies. Journal of Animal Science, 94: 3624-3635 doi:0.2527/jas.2016-0503.

Robinson, D. L., J. P. Goopy, R. S. Hegarty, and V. H. Oddy (2015). Comparison of repeated measurements of CH4 production in sheep over 5 years and a range of measurement protocols. Journal of Animal Science 93: 4637-4650.

Robinson, D.L., Goopy, J.P., Hegarty, R.S. , Oddy, V.H., Thompson, A.N., Toovey, A., Macleay, C.A., Briegal, J.R., Woodgate, R.W., Donaldson, A., and Vercoe, P.E. (2014). Genetic and environmental variation in methane emissions of sheep at pasture. Journal of Animal Science, 92: 4349-4363.

Robinson, D.L., Goopy, J.P., Donaldson, A. Woodgate, R.W., Oddy, V.H., Hegarty, R.S. (2014). Sire and liveweight affect feed intake and methane emissions of sheep confined in respiration chambers. Animal 8: 1935-1944.

Greenwood, P.L., Cafe, L.M., McIntyre, B.L., Geesink, G.H. Thompson, J.M., Polkinghorne, R., Pethick, D.W. and Robinson, D.L. (2013). Molecular Value Predictions: associations with beef quality, carcass, production, behavioral and efficiency phenotypes in Brahman cattle. (Journal of Animal Science, in press.) Journal of Animal Science, 91: 5912-5925 doi:.0.2527/jas.2013-6960

Cafe, L.M., McKiernan, W.A., Robinson, D.L. (2013). Selection for increased muscling is not detrimental to maternal productivity traits in Angus cows.  (Animal Production Science, in press).

Robinson, D.L., Hegarty, R.S., Miller, J, Perdok, H. (2013). Use of autofeeders vs bunk feeding systems affects feed intake and efficiency but not carcass attributes of feedlot cattle.  Proc Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture.

Robinson, D.L., Cafe, L., Greenwood, P. L. (2013). Developmental programming in cattle: Consequences for growth, efficiency, carcass, muscle and beef quality characteristics.  Journal of Animal Science 91:1428-42.

Robinson, D.L., Cafe, L. M. , McIntyre, B. L., Geesink, G. H. Barendse, W., Pethick, D. W., Thompson, J. M., Polkinghorne, R., Greenwood, P. L. (2012). Production and processing studies on calpain-system gene markers for beef tenderness: Consumer assessments of eating quality. Journal of Animal Science 90:2850–2860.

Robinson, D.L., Bickell, S., Toovey, A.F., Revell, D.K.,Vercoe., P.E. (2011). Factors affecting variability in feed intake of sheep with ad libitum access to feed and the relationship with daily methane production. Proc 18th Conf Assoc Adv Anim Brd Genet.

Cafe, L.M., Robinson, D.L., Ferguson, D.M., McIntyre, B.L., Geesink, G.H.,Greenwood, P.L. (2011). Cattle temperament: Persistence of assessments and associations with productivity, efficiency, carcass and meat quality traits. J Anim Sci, 89, 1452-1465.

Cafe, L.M., Robinson, D.L., Ferguson, D.M., Geesink, G.H., Greenwood, P.L. Temperament and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function are related and combine to affect growth, efficiency, carcass and meat quality traits in Brahman steers. Domestic Animal Endocrinology 40 (2011) 230–240

Robinson, D.L., Goopy, J. and Hegarty, R.S. (2010) Can rumen methane production be predicted from volatile fatty acid concentrations?  Animal Production Science, 50: 630-636.

Robinson, D.L., Goopy, J.P., Hegarty, R.S., Vercoe, P.E. (2010). Repeatability, Animal and Sire Variation in 1-hr Methane Emissions & Relationships with Rumen Volatile Fatty Acid (VFA) Concentrations.  Proc. 9th Word Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Leipzig, Germany, 1-6 August.   Available at:

Hegarty, R. S., Alcock, D., Robinson, D.L., Goopy, J. P. and Vercoe, P. E. (2010). Nutritional and flock management options to reduce methane output and methane per unit product from sheep enterprises.  Animal Production Science 50:1026-1033

Cafe, L.M., Mcintyre, B.M., Robinson, D.L., Geesink, G.H., Barendse, W., Thompson J.M., Pethick, D.W., Greenwood, P.L. (2010). Production and processing studies on calpain-system gene markers for tenderness in cattle: 2. Objective meat quality. J Anim Sci, 88: 3059-3069.

Cafe, L.M., Mcintyre, B.M., Robinson, D.L., Geesink, G.H., Barendse, W., Greenwood, P.L. (2010). Production and processing studies on calpain-system gene markers for tenderness in cattle: 1. Growth, efficiency, temperament and carcass characteristics. J Anim Sci, 88: 3047-3058

Robinson, D.L. (2009). Improving the accuracy of selecting animals for reduced methane emissions. Proc 18th Conf Assoc Adv Anim Brd Genet 18:

Robinson, D.L. (2009) Experimental design for complex, large-scale research projects to estimate genetic parameters plus numerous treatment and sire effects. Livestock Science, 121: 300-307.

Robinson, D.L. (2008). Designing complex research projects to estimate genetic parameters plus treatment and other effects – optimizing the experimental design. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 1110-1117.

Robinson, D.L. (2008). Days to calving in artificially inseminated cattle: alternative models and analyses Livestock Science, 117, 34-42.

Robinson, D.L. (2007). Days to calving in artificially inseminated beef cows: Comparison of potential traits. Livestock Science, 110, 174-180.

Robinson, D.L. (2005). Assessing the accuracy of modelling weight gain of cattle using feed efficiency data. Livestock Production Science, 95, 187-200

Robinson, D.L. (2005). Accounting for bias in regression coefficients with example from feed efficiency. Livestock Production Science 95, 155-166

Robinson, D.L., and Oddy, V.H. (2004). Genetic parameters for feed intake, feed efficiency, eating rate, number of meals, time spent eating and fatness traits in feedlot finished beef cattle. Livestock Production Science 9, 255-270. (cited 115 times, according to Google Scholar)

Upton W., Burrow H.M., Dundon A., and Robinson D.L. (2001). CRC breeding program design, measurements and database: methods that underpin CRC research results. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 41, 943-952. (cited 70 times)

Robinson, D.L. (1996). Estimation and Interpretation of Direct and Maternal Genetic Parameters for Weights of Australian Angus Cattle. Livestock Production Science, 45, 1-11, 1996 (cited 175 times)

Robinson, D.L. (1996). Models Which Might Explain Negative Correlations between Direct and Maternal Genetic Effects. Livestock Production Science, 45, 111-122. (cited 154 times)

Robinson, D.L., McDonald, C.A., Hammond, K. and Turner, J.W. (1992). Live animal measurement of carcass traits by ultrasound: assessment and accuracy of sonographers. Journal of Animal Science 70, 1667-1676 (cited 74 times).

Robinson, D.L., Hammond, K., McDonald, C.A. (1993). Live animal measurement of carcass traits: estimation of genetic parameters for beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 71, 1128-1135 (cited 58 times)

Robinson, D.L. (1987). Estimation and use of variance components. The Statistician, 36, 3-14. (cited 159 times).

Fields of research

010404 Applied Statistics
070201 Animal Breeding

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Contact details