Sheep and goat farming are important to the rural economy of Ireland, Europe and many other countries across the world, particularly in areas that are unsuitable for other farming production systems. New tools called Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) tools, also known as digital technologies, have been developed for other sectors to improve farm efficiency, However, the development and uptake of such tools has been slower in the sheep industry.
A new EU-funded project named “[email protected]” (Small Ruminant Technologies) will bring together a network of researchers from 8 countries across Europe (Ireland, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Norway, UK) and Israel. The aim of [email protected] is to increase the awareness of newly available PLF tools, demonstrating their potential to improve productivity and labour efficiency and thier possible return on investment. The network will engage with a wide range of sheep and goat farming systems across Europe.
The project will use a variety of methods to facilitate productive knowledge exchange within the European small ruminant community, working with a wide range of stakeholders including those operating well-equipped demonstration farms (‘digi-farms’) and innovative commercial farms. By drawing upon the valuable input and knowledge of farmers and passing it on to their peers, the hope is that it will increase uptake of PLF tools across the industry.
[email protected] aims to use a step-by-step approach to ensure that all the relevant people are involved at the correct stages to facilitate and enable discussion and exchange of ideas in a trusting environment. It is intended to use these discussions to motivate IT companies to develop further practical, cost effective, digital solutions for the sheep and goat sectors.
Dr. Tim Keady of Teagasc is the lead researcher from Ireland and he said:
“We’re delighted to be part of this European project focussing on the potential of precision livestock tools in sheep production systems. This project will deliver practical information from the ‘digi-farms’ and commercial farmers that will be helpful to farmers throughout the Ireland and Europe.”
The [email protected] project team is seeking farmers and stakeholders opinions on PLF tools. You can become involved in the project by completing a short survey to help the [email protected] project team understand the main challenges, needs and interests along the whole sheep and goat value chain for PLF tools and digital technologies.
The survey is available at the following link and will be open to responses for one month (https://bit.ly/3sI0Eni).