Integrating innovative TECHnologies along the value Chain to improve small ruminant welfARE management

Preparatory activities for LS studies in Greece at dairy sheep & goat farm of Iraklis Zisiopoulos (Pieria, Greece)

– by S. Patsios, E. Sossidou (ELGO-DIMITRA)

Mr. Iraklis Zisiopoulos is a goat farmer located in the small village of Vria in Pieria, Greece.

Location of Iraklis’ sheep & goat farm

He owns a flock of 550 dairy sheep and a separate flock of 120 dairy goats. He manages his farm using a semi-intensive farming system. Additionally, he is a member of the Dairy Sheep Breeders Association, also known as Genelass. Iraklis employs innovative management techniques on his farm. These practices include regular volumetric milk measurements to record milk yield. He also uses specialized software called to record important data such as lambing/kidding dates, mating groups, ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis results, and more. Furthermore, he adopts the method of artificial rearing for lambs and kids as rearing method on his farm. His farm’s breeding schedule include three lambing periods throughout the year, which occur in September, November, and February. Additionally, he has one kidding period for his goats, which takes place in January and February annually.

Iraklis actively participates in the activities within the TechCare project and is firmly committed to be one of the Greek goat farmers to participate in the large-scale (LS) studies. Since July 2023, the first PLF equipment has been placed on his farm. This equipment comprises:

  • GPS collars with activity and temperature monitoring capabilities, as well as entrance and exit alerts.
  • A meteorological station which includes the Solar radiations shield RS3B as a solar radiation sensor, the Temp/RH sensor S-THCMO02 HOBO for censoring relative humidity and temperature, the DAVIS S-WCF anemometer to measure the speed and direction of the wind, the RAIN Gauge S-RGF-M002 as a gauge for the amount of rainfall and the HOBO Micro Station H21-USB for the monitoring of microclimates which is used as a data logger.
  • Ear tags with an identification/recording system when the animal passes a certain location. Signal receivers have been installed at two specific locations: At the water trough that records each time an animal visits the trough to drink water and at the exit point of the farm’s grazing area that records the entry and exit of animals from the grazing area.

Moreover, he has been trained to assess the health status, behaviour, and welfare of the animals and fulfil the relevant recording sheets on a daily basis. A comprehensive analysis of all the data gathered by the equipment will be conducted by the end of the year. The purpose of this analysis is to test the operation of the PLF tools in real operating environment and to identify potential technical issues and problems to be solved. Moreover, the data management procedure will be tested to gain useful experience for the data management of the large-scale studies in 10 Greek dairy goat farms.

Individual analog volumetric milk meters installed at Iraklis’ sheep & goat farm (© ELGO – DIMITRA)