Download the EcoLamb factsheet pdf

Holistic production to reduce the ecological footprint of meat 

The project will assess the sustainability of diverse European sheep production systems focusing on ecological footprint, animal welfare aspects and nutrition value of lamb meat. By engaging trans-national research and industry stakeholders from 6 countries (Germany, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey) we analyzed resource-efficient, competitive and low-carbon lamb production models on numerous case study farms. Our goal is to prove a direct linkage between animal welfare, meat quality and farm typology. This will be determined using innovative Precision Farming (PF) techniques, ecological assessment of production systems in varying bioregions and multitude of quality testing procedures. Following this process the consortium will then take the end result, which they will have identified as “ecologically sound and nutritionally superior lamb meat”and afterbrandingit, will market the product throughout Europe. The multi-disciplinary consortium will engage and include actors from the EU-sheep sector into the product supply chain to promote the state-of-the-art healthier meat product brand. The anticipated distinctiveness and accomplishment of the product will encourage greater inclusion by farmers to produce the same type of lamb in the same manner. The project is almost halfway through its anticipated period and the workplan Milestones & Deliverables are being realized as per consortium expectations.

Animal Welfare: Its still too early to make conclusive insights about the impact of stress on meat quality but with the ear sensors now providing more reliable data, these results will also be utilized in our final assessment. From a behavioral aspect; extensively reared lambs scored higher in descriptors whereas intensively reared lambs showed higher values in descriptors such as agitated and fearful but also in other as active, sociable, vigorous, subdued, calm, inquisitive and assertive. Semi-intensively reared lambs scored in between. All the animals ruminated to some extent, the quality of the fleece was always acceptable and no stereotypes were recorded

Conservation: Results showed the complex and varied communities associated to the diverse sheep systems and valorise the role of the extensive, mountain and natural pastures for the conservation of biodiversity in sheep grazed areas. Legumes proliferated in pastures with higher plant richness and number of flowers, and the preservation of these conditions is linked to more sustainable systems in terms of both animal production and environmental conservation.

LCA analysis: the mathematical model is being tested, first results are expected in May-June 2019

Meat Safety and Quality: The lamb meat tested so far has gıven results for Atherogenic (IA) and Thrombogenic (IT) indices, which are the global dietetic quality indicators of lipids and their potential impact on the development of coronary heart disease. The study so far has shown:

  • Satisfactory microbiological quality at the end of shelf life, however there was a statistically significant difference in Total Viable Count, Lactic Acid Bacteria and Psychotropic Plate Count between extensively reared and intensively reared lambs in Italy.
  • Significant difference in meat quality both in nutrition value (Total Fatty Acids) and Sensory qualities were seen between the two production systems in Spain.
  • Significant difference in both average daily weight gain, meat nutritional value and shelf life was seen between sheep breeds used for lamb production in Portugal.

Messages to:

A) Actors from private sector (entrepreneurs, traders, investors etc.)   

In some cases (Portugal) the results evidenced the urgent need to implement strategies and verification processes to reduce the current levels of pathogens in lamb carcasses. Recommendations will be made to relevant authorities.

Discussions have already begun with sheep industry representatives and retailers to ensure consumer expectations for animal welfare and improved meat quality is met when the branding and marketing process for EcoLamb begins.

B) Civil society and practitioners organizations

Farmer groups and govt. extension services have also shown interest in providing input for when the EcoLamb toolbox is prepared. The consortium will incorporate the toolbox into the industry best practice farm solutions for enhancing the competitiveness of the lamb meat sector.

Breeder associations have shown interest in innovative technology to manage animal welfare e localization. Local political managers interested as added value in the promotion of the territory (Italy).

​C) Policy makers

The conservation of certain government owned areas with variable sward heights and availability of floral resources within the pastures could contribute to maintain higher levels of biodiversity, an ecosystem service that may also have a positive influence on the global sustainability of the farms.

Knowledge products:

All the dissemination products so far collected are uploaded in the website :

Social impact of the chain production system in Alps with the production and showing of a short clip “Everyday is Monday”, now also upload in website: (from 25 March 2019). A way to spread the life of the small breeder in the Alps.

Coordinated by: Dr. Sinan Ogun- RR Research and Development (TURKEY) – Contact: 19 Mayis Mah. Samanyolu Sok. No.90, Kat 4, D26, Sisli Istanbul - T: +90 532 2759367

Funded by: TUBITAL, BMEL, MIPAAF, FCT, MKGP, INIA, Servicio Regional de Ivestigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario and Instituto Tecnológica Agrario de Castilla y Léon  as part of the ERA-NET Cofund SusAn through a virtual common pot model including EU Top-Up funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no 696231)

4 research partners:

  • GERMANY: Institute of Stuttgart
  • ITALY: Turin University
  • PORTUGAL: Mountain Research Centre
  • SLOVENIA: Univerza V Novi Gorici
  • SPAIN: Meat Technology Centre of Galicia, Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario and Instituto Tecnológico Agrario de Castilla y Léon

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