To view the full set of reports including this research please visit 'Horizon 2020: Innovation for Sustainable Sheep and Goad Production in Europe'.

Beef & Lamb
Project code:
01 April 2016 - 31 March 2020
AHDB Beef & Lamb
AHDB sector cost:
£0 (in-kind)
Total project value:
Project leader:

About this project

The Problem:

Sheep and goat farmers mostly live in less-favoured areas and are exposed to evolving and volatile socio-economic, demographic and market trends.  Sheep and goat farming is hence sensitive to external environmental factors, such as weather, grass growth and climate change.  In addition this sector utilises resources that cannot otherwise be converted into valuable products for human consumption.  iSAGE is aimed at enhancing the sustainability, competitiveness and resilience of the European sheep and goat sectors through collaboration between industry and research using a multi-actor approach. iSAGE will deliver a thorough assessment of the sustainability of the sheep and goat sector as well as leading to the developing of strategies for improvement on how to respond to challenges and opportunities identified.  The nature of these challenges requires a participatory approach that will build the project from the farmer level up through the whole chain so that these relevant issues are addressed and the project outcomes are applicable in practice.


Aims and Objectives:

The primary objective of iSAGE is to improve the overall sustainability and innovative capacity of the sheep and goat sector in Europe. This will be achieved by enhancing the efficiency and profitability of the sector at the farm level, whilst increasing its societal acceptance and improving the delivery of ecosystem services. To achieve these objectives, iSAGE industry partners will collaborate closely with the multi-disciplinary research teams to develop new socio-economic, animal welfare and sustainability assessments for the whole supply chain. The outcomes of these assessments will be used to understand the potential future barriers that limit the innovative capacity and development of the sector and the opportunities that may provide a future market niche against other type of animal products. Additionally, assessing the attitudes of the consumer and society to the EU sheep and goat sector will assist in re-designing critical aspects to increase society acceptance and the place of sheep and goat products (meat and milk) in future diets. iSAGE will provide solutions for the industry including re-designing production systems and genetic resources and management of sheep and goat populations. These solutions will be packaged and disseminated via industry partners and new communication networks within the sheep and goat sector.



The objectives will be addressed through the following work packages:

Work package 1 – Holistic sustainability assessment The objective of WP1 is to assess the sustainability of different types of sheep and goat farming systems in seven European countries. We will develop indicators and tools that include social, economic and animal welfare indicators in a holistic sustainability assessment approach that informs the development of improvement strategies in other work packages. These sustainability indicators will be also used to develop a novel toolbox of assessment tools that can be used by the industry partners as standard for future sustainability assessments.

Work package 2 – Socio-economic, demographic and consumer trends The objective of WP2 is to identify in greater depth geographic, demographic and other socio-economic variables and understand their impact of on farmers and the whole supply chain. WP2 will also aim to better understand consumers and societal interests towards goat and sheep farming and the place of sheep and goat milk and meat various products in future diets.

Work package 3 – Climatic change assessment The objective of WP3 is to evaluate the impact of climate change specifically on the sheep and goat farming sector both on the pasture and animal level in sheep and goat farming in various countries, using mathematical models and making use of the research findings from several recent European Research projects (e.g. ANIMALCHANGE, Multisward and Legume Futures).

Work package 4 – Holistic production systems The objective of WP4 is to identify innovation that can help be used to re-design sheep and goat production systems in Europe in order to address sustainably current and future sustainability challenges identified in WPs 1, 2 and 3. This WP will work in parallel and in close collaboration with WP5 that and will identify how new breeding goals and traits can increase sustainability at farm level.

Work package 5 – Innovative system solutions – managing sheep and goat resources The objective of WP5 is to develop innovative genetic resource management and breeding solutions for sheep and goat populations that will help the relevant European industry sectors to cope with and thrive in the face of future environmental, climatic and socio-economic (including demographic and market trends) challenges. In this regard, WP5 will consider sustainability indicators developed in WP1 and interact closely with WPs 2, 3 and 4.

Work package 6 – Multi-actor internal and external communication The objective of WP6 is to ensure iSAGE work is relevant to the needs of the industry and is disseminated so it is easily implemented and exploited by the industry. To do so we will use a multi-actor approach with research and industry working in partnership. Therefore, this WP provides the means to prioritise research and disseminate and exploit project outputs to meet industry needs. Communication will be co-ordinated internally between the research and industry partners, and externally between the project and its stakeholders.

Work package 7 – Project management The objective of WP7 is to ensure optimal co-ordination, management and collaboration of the iSAGE project to maximise quality outputs and recommendations. Management will be strengthened by including dedicated management partner for administration that will aid AUTH in coordinating iSAGE. National Expert Groups will also help direct the consortium by providing perspectives from relevant stakeholders.


Further information can be found on the iSAGE website.