Obituary Dr Brian Wickham

Prepared by Dorian Garrick

With deep sadness I convey the news that Dr. Brian Wickham, an eminent figure in the field of cattle breeding and genetics, passed away today (20 August 2023) aged 76, after more than two years determinedly battling Stage 4 cancer.

His contributions have likely touched everyone reading this message even though many may not have had the privilege of directly interacting with Brian.

Brian was involved in the early stages of sire evaluation in dairy cattle with the New Zealand Dairy Board.  His PhD thesis at Cornell University with Dr. CR Henderson was completed in much less than 3 year’s time and elucidated the translation invariance of BLUP, a property we all take for granted today.  

After his PhD he envisioned and led the implementation for LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation) of a comprehensive database and information system for dairy cattle improvement.  He sought further enhancements in animal evaluation by providing the leadership that led to the national implementation of an across-breed animal model for New Zealand.  He obtained funding for some of the earliest dairy cattle genomics research that used micro-satellite markers to discover QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci).  Those findings resulted in the implementation of marker-assisted selection in dairy cattle.  

He provided leadership in establishing INTERBULL.  Brian led the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation as its first employee and Chief Executive from its inception to its established position as the world leading database and information system that spanned multiple species. Brian provided leadership to ICAR (International Committee of Animal Recording) and the establishment of Interbeef.

After his diagnosis, Brian agreed to having a conference to celebrate his life which was held a little over two years ago.  The announcement of that celebration can be found at

Video recordings of the presentations can be found on youtube.

He is survived by his loving family – his wife Alison, children Hadley and Charlotte, and grandson Felix – as well as a diverse global community of friends and colleagues who will remember him not only for his professional accomplishments and unwavering determination to get things done, but also for his utmost kindness, integrity, and positivity.

We will miss Brian immensely, but his legacies will live on.