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SheepNet Identifies solutions to improve sheep productivity

Jean-Marc Gautier

Institut de l’Elevage – France.


SheepNet is an EU network about practice-driven innovation to improve productivity of meat sheep (the number of lambs reared per ewe joined) and milk sheep (the number of milking ewes per ewe joined). SheepNet involves stakeholders from the 6 main EU sheep producing countries (Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Romania and UK) and Turkey and was initiated 2 years ago. Based on a multi-actor and transdisciplinary approach, SheepNet has identified the best solutions from across the EU to improve sheep productivity.


Initially SheepNet identified end-users (e.g. farmers, advisors, and vet) needs, thanks to an online survey completed by respondents from the 7 countries. The mains needs identified related to nutrition management, animal health management and lamb vigour and immunity at birth. In parallel, a comparison of EU sheep productivity has been completed showing huge variability amongst countries and systems within countries. Ewe productivity ranged from 0.5 to 2.5 lambs reared per ewe joined clearly illustrating that there is scope for improvement by most producers. To address the needs identified by producers to improve sheep productivity, SheepNet has identified a set of 42 solutions (best practices) and 73 tips & tricks (tools to help to implement each solution).


In parallel, scientists undertook a review of the literature related to sheep productivity (reproduction, gestation and lamb survival) and produced three briefing papers with the most relevant up to date scientific knowledge.


SheepNet has also listed all existing “precision livestock farming” solutions that can be helpful for improved farm management, thus sheep productivity.


All those solutions and knowledge are available on


All this work has been possible thanks to the national workshops held twice annually in each of the 7 countries and the transnational workshops which were held, todate, in Scotland, Romania, Spain and Italy (Sardinia). These workshops are very important tools for SheepNet to foster interaction between countries and stakeholders with different backgrounds and knowledge. These workshops facilitate top-down and bottom-up approach communication which is crucial for the identification of all the solutions and ‘tips & tricks’ which are made available by SheepNet. The next international workshop will be held in Ireland in June the 12-13th. Registration are open on SheepNet website.


SheepNet will hold its final seminar in France at the beginning of September 2019.


SheepNet is open to all EU countries, stakeholders, sheep producers.

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