By Claire Morgan-Davies (SRUC)
We had our first annual meeting on the 19th October 2021. It was the first time since our kick-off meeting in September 2020, that the whole consortium met. We were also fortunate to have some of our Advisory Board members who joined us for the discussions. In total, 54 people joined the meeting, which had to be held online using Zoom, due to the Covid19 on-going restrictions. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the work and activities that the project has completed in its first year, as well as the upcoming tasks. It also allowed the Advisory Group members to be more aware of our project and to give us some feedback and advice. Over the past year, TechCare has covered a lot of ground. We held 2 series of national workshops in all 9 partners countries. These workshops were to get feedback on welfare issues in sheep and goats systems, and on Precision Livestock Farming tools. The project also developed a global list of welfare issues and indicators for sheep and goats in the different systems and environments that are covered by the project. Work on welfare assessment for these systems is also on-going. We created an extensive inventory of existing PLF tools, that may or may not be applicable to small ruminant welfare management. Based on this information, work on the implementation of the pilots on research farms has also been possible in the past year. We carried out extensive discussion regarding the types of PLF tools to be implemented on the different pilots, with the aim of providing enough information to set up early warning systems for welfare issues. Discussions on the type of data to collect and analyse have also been carried out during that first year. The next step will be the running of the pilots on the ground, in France, UK, Norway, Italy and Israel, covering meat and dairy sheep, as well as dairy goats. Work on business models has also started, with the development of a comprehensive survey of the sheep and goat markets in the partners countries. Finally, the consortium reflected on the knowledge transfer activities that have been carried out during the past year, notably several presentations on the project at the EAAP annual meeting in August in Switzerland. The Advisory Board members praised the ambitions of the project, whilst also reminded us of the challenges it potentially faces., notably regarding uptake by the sector. The annual meeting was a good opportunity to take stock of the work carried out, and to be ready for the next stages to come.