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Sm@RT transnational workshop in France

Sm@RT (Small Ruminant Technologies) is an EU Horizon 2020 thematic network that aims to share knowledge and improve farmers’ uptake of digital technologies, to help increase the efficiency and sustainability of small ruminant farming systems in Europe and beyond.

Sm@RT Transnational Workshop

Sm@RT held its third transnational workshop (TNWS) on the 5th and 6th of July. Unlike the two previous transnational workshops (TNWS) that were online, due to the Covid 19 situation this meeting was held in Saint Affrique (France; Aveyron department). Approximately 70 delegates from 7 countries (Ireland, Estonia, France, Israel, Italy, Norway and the UK), consisting of farmers, advisors, lecturers and researchers participated at the meeting.

Day 1 - visit to dairy and meat sheep farms

On the first day of the transnational workshop, delegates visited two sheep farms. The first visit was held at the digifarm “la Cazotte”, a dairy sheep farm in the heart of the Roquefort area, which milks 420 ewes. “la Cazotte” is linked to an agricultural school, and thus plays an important role in training and transfer of best practices to the industry.

The second farm visited was the INRAE experimental farm “la Fage”, a dairy (500 ewes) and meat sheep farm (280 ewes reared extensively). During the visits, delegates had the opportunity to view and learn about the use of 14 small ruminant innovative technologies, namely the virtual fence, connected fence, weather station, UHF (ultra high frequency) identification, water meter, lactocorder, Gely INRAE test tubes, automatic feeder in the milking parlour, milk tank weighing, walk over weighing, proximity logger, weighing and sorting crate, individual feed bins, and shed sensors for temperature, humidity and CO2.

The first day ended with a visit of the Roquefort Société sheep cheese caves. This visit showed delegates how Roquefort cheese is produced, ripened and matured in the caves of this region.

Day 2 - the French sheep sector

The second day of the transnational workshop started with a presentation of the French sheep sector. Delegates were presented with informative facts about the dairy and meat sheep production in France, which is mostly located in the south of France. Since 2009, meat sheep production remains stable, and dairy production has increased slightly.

Innovative technology presentations

Following this, each Sm@RT partner country presented an innovative technology to the other countries’ delegates.

  • Israel presented their solution for sheep automatic weighing and water consumption in one weighing trough;
  • Ireland focused on their EID weighcrate auto-sorter;
  • Norway presented their GPS collar;
  • the UK showed their DNA sampling for lamb parentage;
  • Estonia presented their hay drying machine, and
  • Italy their individual milk meter.

Finally, delegates were asked to rank the different innovative technologies presented during the 2 days. The three technologies preferred were the weighing trough, the EID weighcrate auto-sorter and the GPS collar. The TNWS ended with a high level of satisfaction from the delegates.

The next TNWS is scheduled for May 2023 in Norway and will focus on feedback related to a selection of innovative technologies for the small ruminant sector.

Tim Keady, Sm@RT National Facilitator for Ireland, Teagasc said: “Sm@RT is based on a multiactor approach, is very well adapted to foster knowledge sharing on innovative technologies. It is impressive to see how delegates were active and willing to share their view on innovative technologies even though their production systems differed dramatically.”

Brid McClearn, Teagasc Athenry, said: “It was great to be able to see each other for the first time and the group dynamic was fantastic. It was good to see delegates exchanging ideas and seeing for themselves the wide range of innovative technologies available to the sheep and goats sectors”.

To keep up to date with Sm@RT, visit their website or social media accounts:

The Teagasc Sheep Specialists, Researchers and Teagasc Advisors issue an article on a topic of interest to sheep farmers on Tuesdays here on Teagasc Daily.  Find more on Teagasc Sheep here  Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. Find your local Teagasc office here