Sheep project is a good ex­am­ple of col­lab­o­ra­tion

Col­lege: Coun­tries com­bine for live­stock re­search

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - FARMING | WEATHER -

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

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