EuroSheep: Switching the focus from the ewe to the lamb – to improve productivity

Kicking off in January 2020 is EuroSheep – which is a ‘Thematic Network’ on sheep production – funded by the European Union.

Speaking to AgriLand, Tim Keady – the national facilitator for the programme in Ireland – said: “The project will focus on improving lamb production – bringing the lamb from birth to slaughter and the ewe lamb from birth to her first lactation.

“The EuroSheep thematic network will continue the dynamic of knowledge sharing between stakeholders in the European sheep sector which was initiated by SheepNet.

“The exchanges will focus on two main topics: nutrition and flock management; and flock health. These topics were chosen by SheepNet’s stakeholders as the key drivers of flock profitability.”

EuroSheep will last three years, between January 2020 and December 2022. Eight countries are involved, including: Ireland; the UK; Spain; France; Italy; Hungary; Greece; and Turkey.

These countries represent 80% of European sheep production.

“EuroSheep plans to improve the viability of sheep farms by improving their technical performance,” Tim said.

The objective of EuroSheep is to exchange existing knowledge between stakeholders at all stages of the supply chain in sheep production in the different countries focusing on two main themes.

He added: “Through a multi-stakeholder approach, EuroSheep aims to bring together all the stakeholders involved in the sheep sector. These include: farmers; advisors; veterinarians; teachers; researchers; and processors. These exchanges should enable mutual benefits to all stakeholders involved in sheep production within the EU.

“Following a similar structure as used by SheepNet, EuroSheep will articulate national and international workshops to structure and facilitate knowledge exchange both nationally and internationally.”

Initially, the objective is to identify the needs of farmers in terms of nutrition and health management of their flocks.

“Subsequently, EuroSheep will collect and create a reservoir of scientific knowledge, technical solutions and tips and tricks that address the needs identified by each country.

“Each country will then select relevant solutions and information from the EuroSheep knowledge reservoir that addresses needs identified by their stakeholders, and then evaluate them.

“Finally, EuroSheep will implement a dissemination plan for the transfer of knowledge and practical solutions to improve flock management, nutrition and health. Furthermore, areas lacking in knowledge will be identified to target future research priorities,” Tim concluded.

EuroSheep will begin in January 2020 and will be completed after three years of work at the end of December 2022.