Prof Cathy Dwyer from Animal Veterinary Science, Dr Claire Morgan-Davies from Future Farming Systems Hill & Mountain Research Centre and Poppy Frater from SAC Consulting are heavily involved in the project.
The first UK national workshop was held at Carfraemill near Edinburgh back in May, and was attended by a range of stakeholders from various farmers’ sheep groups (KTIF Livelambs, SAC Sheep Group, Maternal Sheep Group) as well as scientists and a vet.
The main challenges, issues and needs influencing sheep productivity were discussed. The consensus of the meeting was that the three main issues influencing effective reproduction were the effects of ewe body condition score, nutrition/grassland management and flock health status.
Following on from this event, an international workshop was held at King's Building in Edinburgh in June. Thirty-five participants from the seven countries participating in SheepNet exchanged knowledge on the production systems and issues influencing sheep productivity within their own countries.
The conclusion here was that the issues and problems influencing sheep productivity were quite similar across all countries.
The delegates also visited a 1920 ewe flock farm which finished all lambs from grass, near Galashiels, and had a tour to our own SRUC Castlelaw farm. Despite the (typical) rainy weather, the delegates were delighted by their visit and really enjoyed Scotland.
“These SheepNet activities offer a real opportunity for people interested in sheep production to interact and discuss the many issues which negatively impact sheep productivity. Often practical solutions do exist, and these events are ideal occasions for sharing such solutions between scientists, farmers and stakeholders across the EU.”
Dr Claire Morgan-Davies, Future Farming Systems Hill & Mountain Research Centre
Next on the list is another national workshop with farmers, planned in October at SRUC’s Hill & Mountain Research Centre, followed by the next international workshop which will take place in Romania.
Further information on SheepNet