The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Sheep project is a good example of collaborat­ion

College: Countries combine for livestock research


SRUC’s Professor Davy McCracken offers an insight into work at the college’s hill and mountain research centre

The work of my team here at Kirkton and Auchtertyr­e in the west Highlands revolves around highlighti­ng to Scottish hill farmers and crofters what changes they can make to increase the future sustainabi­lity of their farms and crofts.

Many of those insights arise from the agricultur­al and environmen­tal research we conduct on the farms.

But many also come about from our contacts with scientists and livestock farmers working in mountainou­s and remote regions elsewhere in Europe.

I have highlighte­d in previous articles that we are already involved in a number of European projects, all with a focus on improving livestock system sustainabi­lity.

And I am pleased to say that we and our partners have been successful in winning funding for another project which starts in January next year.

EuroSheep is a threeyear EU-funded project led by Idele, the French Livestock Institute.

There are 10 partners drawn from seven EU sheep-producing countries (France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK) together with Turkey.

The project has two main goals. The first is to assess how best to improve individual and flock performanc­e through improved management of animal health.

The second will consider how an enhanced focus on the nutritiona­l needs of the animals can help reduce annual feed costs.

We are inputting to the project in associatio­n with SRUC animal welfare and

SAC Consulting sheep specialist­s.

Members of my team will also lead on the wider European disseminat­ion of the solutions identified.

The range of partners involved means that the project will focus on both meat and milk production.

A common focus will be put on the adult ewes, given their importance in transformi­ng the vegetation they eat into marketable meat and dairy products for human consumptio­n.

The nutrition and health of lambs will also be considered, though different partners will focus on how best to raise lambs so they can express their full genetic potential when destined either for meat production or as replacemen­ts into a dairy flock.

EuroSheep will involve input from a wide range of farmers, farmer organisati­ons, advisers, researcher­s, policy makers and representa­tives from across the meat and dairy supply chains.

Farmer input to the whole process is essential to ensure their experience of what does and does not work is taken into account.

But facilitati­ng direct farmer-to-farmer discussion­s is also a great way to transfer knowledge effectivel­y.

“Farmer input to the whole process is essential”

 ??  ?? WOOLLY THINKING: Sheep are the focus of the latest multinatio­nal project involving Scotland’s Rural College
WOOLLY THINKING: Sheep are the focus of the latest multinatio­nal project involving Scotland’s Rural College
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