19 January 2021
Intercropping for sustainability

Two-day Conference with AAB, DIVERSify and ReMIX at Reading University

6 September 2021
Organic World Congress 2021

New date! Postponed from September 2020

30 July 2020
ORC welcomes the National Food Strategy

The first major reviewof our food system in 75 years

24 July 2020
The future of organic farming and the environment

All to play for if full benefits of organic farming for wildlife, the environment and health are to be realised

29 April 2020
Tim Bennett is the new Chair of ORC

Former NFU president takes on chairmanship of Organic Research Centre

Innovation for Sustainable Sheep and Goat Production in Europe



Project code:


Contract period:

1 March 2016 to 29 February 2020

Project webpage:


Main funder:

Horizon 2020

Contact staff at ORC:

Dr. Marion Johnson

Other staff involved:

Dr. Stefano Orsini, Dr Lindsay Whistance, Chiara Tuoni, Lisa Arguile

Project aims

To enhance the sustainability, competitiveness and resilience of the European Sheep and Goat sectors through collaboration between industry and research.

The project basis is a strong collaboration between industry and research institutions. In this collaboration, the sheep and goat sectors in Europe are identifying the challenges and opportunities. Together industry and research partners are thoroughly assessing the sustainability of the sector and developing strategies to respond to the identified challenges and opportunities.

iSAGE will assess the sustainability of the sheep and goat sectors in Europe in the light of future challenges such as climate change, food security, resource use efficiency and rural deprivation in marginal regions. Following the sustainability assessment, iSAGE will develop strategies to meet or prevent these challenges. Such strategies will include all levels of industry including farmers, local populations, consumers, processors and retailers. Industry and research working together will ensure that relevant issues are addressed and the project outcomes are applicable in practice.

Within this, the seven project work packages aim to:

  1. Provide a holistic sustainability assessment of European Sheep and Goat systems.
  2. Develop an in-depth understanding of the interactions between the various, environmental, practical, socio-economic and consumer related issues affecting the Sheep and Goat sector.
  3. Gather the most up-to-date scientific information on the impact of climate change and its impact on Sheep and Goat systems.
  4. Design and test innovative management practices for sheep and goat systems.
  5. Develop innovative population-level genetic resource management and breeding solutions to help the industry cope with future challenges.
  6. Ensure that the knowledge and insights gained from this work are disseminated to stakeholders throughout the Sheep and Goat supply chains.
  7. Ensure optimal co-ordination, management and collaboration between the 18 project partners to maximise the quality of the project outputs.

ORC's role

  • Leading Work Package 1 ‘Holistic sustainability assessment’.
  • Leading preliminary farmer survey task.
  • Leading retailer survey task.
  • Leading survey of best-practice within the supply chain task.
  • Leading literature review on climate change and small ruminants task.
  • Assisting with the development and testing of innovative, holistic production systems.
  • Assisting with the development of genetic resource and management solutions to help address current and future challenges.
  • Assisting with the dissemination of the knowledge and insight gained from this research, to a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Assisting with the coordination and overall management of the entire project.

Current progress highlights

Project leader and partners

ORC is part of the consortium of 34 organisations from seven countries, including from the UK: the National Sheep Association, Scotland’s Rural College, AHDB and Yorkshire Dairy Goats.

  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (project leader)
  • LEVER S.A. Development Consultants
  • Agricultural Cooperative of Pieria Sheep and Goat Farmers
  • Agricultural Livestock Cooperative of Western Greece
  • Luke- National Resource Institute Finland
  • ProAgria Association of Rural Advisory Centers
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
  • L’Institut de l’Elevage (French livestock Institute)
  • Capgenes
  • Comite National Brebis Laitieres
  • European Federation of Animal Science
  • Universita Politecnica delle Marche
  • Istituto per la Certificazione Etica ed Ambientale
  • Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza / International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigacion y Tecnologia Agraria y Alimentaria
  • Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
  • Basque Centre for Climate Change – Klima Aldaketa Ikergai
  • Carnes Oviarogon SCL
  • CABRANDALUCIA Federacion Andaluza de Asociaciones de Ganado Caprino de Raza Pura
  • Asociacion Nacional de Criadores de Ganado Ovino Selecto de Raza Manchega
  • Asociacion Espanola de Criadores de Ovino Selecto de Raza Lacaune
  • Nigde University
  • Ataturk University
  • Pan Hayvancilik Gida Sanayi Tic LTD STI
  • Red Rock Agricultural Pastoral Tarim Limited Sirketi
  • Gaziantep Ili Damizlik Koyun Keçi Yetistiricileri Birligi
  • Scotland’s Rural College
  • Organic Research Centre
  • National Sheep Association
  • The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
  • Yorkshire Dairy Goats


Paraskevopoulou C, Theodoridis A, Johnson M, Ragkos A, Arguile L, Smith L, Vlachos D, Arsenos G. Sustainability Assessment of Goat and Sheep Farms: A Comparison between European Countries. Sustainability. 2020;12(8):3099.

Rose I, Martin-Collado D, Orsini S, Zanoli R, Yañez-Ruiz D, Zaralis K, Arsenos G (2019) Using the Multi-stakeholder Approach to Match Potential Innovations with Challenges Experienced by European Sheep and Goat Farms. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp 119-130.

Previous relevant work

Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying (SOLID)

All sources of funding

European Commission Horizon 2020-EU.3.2. - SOCIETAL CHALLENGES - Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy