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EU Project Aims to Boost Sheep and Goat Industry

19 August 2016

EU - A new multi-million pound EU funded research project, iSAGE, is aiming to future proof our sheep and goat farming industry.

A team of researchers from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is contributing, as part of a consortium involving 28 partners from France, Finland, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

The first year of the project will be in two distinct phases. The first will assess the current position in terms of the sheep and goat farming sector across Europe, while the second phase will focus on mapping the potential changes in terms of weather, pastures, and the markets.

The team will then move on to analysing data from over 2.5 million animals to identify the specific traits required for the ideal future sheep and goat breeds.

SRUC’s Professor Georgios Banos commented: "Different countries and environments require different types of animals. If, for example, we do have more wet weather in the UK, we could see more parasites on our pastures which means grazing animals will need to have stronger resistance to diseases they carry. Elsewhere however, if animals are living in hot, dry conditions, they will need to be bred to cope with heat stress."

The project will run until 2020, when the researchers hope to be able to provide farmers across the UK and Europe with the genetic information needed to create sheep and goats best suited for the future.

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