Sheep meat and sheep milk production are very important farm enterprises in Europe and neighbouring countries. In Europe there are 85 million animals on 830 000 farms while in Turkey there are 31 million animals on 127 000 farms. However, according to EUROSTAT, the number of sheep producers in the EU has declined by 50% since 2000. Furthermore during the past 10 years sheep productivity has decreased by up to 40% depending on the country and the farming system. Since sheep farming plays a key social, economic and environmental role in many “less favoured areas”, these decreasing trends are a worrying constraint for the sustainable development of these areas.
In order to reinforce the attractiveness of the sheep sector, it is fundamental to increase, in a sustainable way, productivity of meat sheep (the number of lambs reared per ewe joined) and of milk sheep (the number of milking ewes per ewe joined).
SheepNet (Sharing Expertise and Experience towards sheep Productivity through NETworking) is a 3 years project led by Idele (France) and funded (€1.99 million) under H2020 RUR-10-2016-2017 which aims to increase sheep productivity, and will run until October 2019. The six main sheep producing EU countries (France, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom), and Turkey are involved in SheepNet.
SheepNet is a network about practice-driven innovation to improve sheep productivity. The network will specifically focus on efficient reproduction, efficient gestation and reduced lamb mortality, as these 3 factors are crucial for a profitable and sustainable sheep production systems.
SheepNet will establish durable exchange of scientific and practical knowledge among researchers, farmers and advisors across Europe. Through a multi-actor and transdisciplinary approach at national and international levels, SheepNet will promote the implementation and dissemination of innovative and best technologies and practices for the improvement of sheep productivity. This network is open to all EU countries, stakeholders, sheep producers. Many national and transnational workshops, publications and events will be realised under SheepNet.