"Sustainable global food security through efficient sheep and goat production"
How must small ruminant production efficiency be improved to sustainably meet the needs of the world’s growing human population for food?
Global ruminant livestock production is inherently inefficient, and small ruminant farming is frequently uneconomic, or fails to alleviate poverty in a welfare-friendly manner. Our Ninth International Sheep Veterinary Congress will identify opportunities for improvement in the efficiency of small ruminant production to sustainably meet the needs of the world’s growing population for food.
Progressive improvement of agricultural production efficiency through the twenty-first century is a global priority to meet the burgeoning needs of the world’s population for food and fibre. However, agricultural sustainability is threatened by a global reduction in available productive land, regional scarcities of replenishable water and the inevitable failure of disease control.
Goats are generally efficient in their metabolism and tolerance of poor quality and potentially toxic nutrients, while sheep are particularly well-adapted to convert short herbage to milk or meat. Different small ruminant breeds and production systems have been developed to suit local resources in seasonally biodiverse environments throughout the world. Small ruminants are therefore adaptable to meet global needs for food security and have potentially important roles in improving the health and wellbeing of the rural poor in their marginal environments. Small ruminants are further suited to enhancing the livelihoods of the poor, due to their manageable size, relatively low maintenance requirements, low capital investment cost, short generation interval and ease of marketing of animals and products, hence suitability as short-term economic reserves. Small ruminant farming is widely considered to be a solution to the challenge of achieving socioeconomically and environmentally sustainable global food security in the face of effects of population growth, urbanisation and affluence, vulnerability to climate change and the hitherto irresponsible agricultural use of drugs and chemicals.
The Ninth International Sheep Veterinary Congress will be held in Harrogate, England over a period of five days between 22nd and 26th May 2017, forming the basis for enduring longer-term collaboration between colleagues with complementary interests in small ruminant health and production. The aim is to provide a platform for the translation of applied research findings in the fields of genetics, animal husbandry and disease management into economically and environmentally sustainable utilisation of natural resources by small ruminants in their target environments.
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The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.