Sheep creation in Europe is on the decrease – which means the EU is now importing more sheep meat than at any time. That’s why an EU-funded undertaking is bringing Europe’s primary sheep generating countries jointly to build new methods and greatest tactics. As a end result, farmers throughout Europe are currently observing an increase in each sheep creation and profitability that will also reward buyers.


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© Paul Steven #316843808, source:inventory.adobe.com 2020

Sheep meat and milk creation is an crucial business in Europe, particularly in countries like Eire, France, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United kingdom. In truth, with eighty five million sheep on 830 000 farms in the EU, moreover an additional 33 million sheep in Turkey, Europe’s flock is bigger than Australia and New Zealand’s combined.

Nevertheless even with this massive variety of sheep, Europe is only 85 % self-enough in sheep meat. As a end result, the EU is the world’s second major importer of sheep meat.

Behind this gap in self-sufficiency is a declining sheep business. Since 2000, the variety of sheep producers in the EU has declined by 50 %, and throughout the previous 10 decades sheep productivity has reduced by up to 40 % (relying on the state and the farming system). 

“Different components can explain this decrease, but the most important a single is lower sheep productivity, or the variety of lambs reared for every ewe joined on the farm,” says Jean-Marc Gautier, Chief of Company at France’s Institut de l’Elevage.

Nonetheless, inspite of this detrimental pattern, Gautier sees major chances for enhancing sheep productivity. “By enhancing reproduction achievements and lamb survivability, we can strengthen farm profitability and increase the self-sufficiency of sheep meat in Europe,” he says.

Helping sheep farmers leverage these chances is the EU-funded SheepNet undertaking, a network of the EU’s primary sheep generating countries and Turkey. “Working with experts and shareholders, the undertaking formulated and shared methods for expanding creation without having possessing to export extra sheep meat,” provides Gautier.

Making sheep creation more eye-catching

The project’s most important purpose was to achieve an increase in ewe productivity of .1 lambs reared for every ewe joined. This would be the equivalent of 64 000 tonnes of sheep meat, therefore resulting in a net self-sufficiency of 92 %. On top of that, farmers would get an around EUR 10 increase for each individual additional .1 lamb bought for every ewe joined.

“We are self-assured that these modifications will make sheep creation more eye-catching for each the existing and up coming generations of producers,” explains Gautier.

To achieve this, the undertaking worked specifically with farmers, experts, and other stakeholders. Collectively, they discovered methods and greatest tactics for enhancing ewe productivity and flock profitability.

“These methods concentrated on anything from nutrition management throughout late pregnancy to colostrum management, leads to of lamb mortality and abortion, artificial rearing, ewe human body issue rating, and sheep get rid of management,” says Gautier. “We also developed a lambing inventory and technique for far better ram management.” 

In total, the undertaking made 42 methods, 88 recommendations and tips, and 22 factsheets. All of these deliverables are available through the SheepNet community system in 6 languages. Every single involves comprehensive information and facts on envisioned expenditures and gains, prerequisites, references, and opinions from actual farmers.

Having a significant impact

With these methods in hand, researchers up coming turned towards dissemination. “SheepNet is all about follow-pushed innovation and sensible understanding sharing,” remarks Gautier. “Through our network, we promoted the implementation and dissemination of ground breaking systems and tactics for enhancing sheep productivity.”

Dissemination routines provided the organisation of 5 workshops for every associate state (35 in total), moreover 5 transnational workshops and a closing summary seminar. Other routines provided the creation of 19 push releases, 143 articles or blog posts, 120 video clips, and 33 infographics – not to mention the use of many social media platforms.

According to Gautier, SheepNet’s methods are currently possessing a significant impact. “We’ve received major opinions from farmers telling us how they are employing our network and methods to strengthen flock productivity, labour performance, and farm profitability,” concludes Gautier.

Centered on the project’s achievements, researchers introduced EuroSheep, a spin-off Horizon 2020 undertaking concentrated on sheep overall health and nutrition. They are presently performing on a new precision livestock farming initiative.