Funder: EC Project Code: 772787
Overall Budget: 7,643,750 EURFunder Contribution: 6,998,910 EUR
Partners: INIA, University of Guelph, University of Edinburgh, British Texel Sheep Society, BUAS, OVIGEN, University of Leon, NEIKER, IOZ CAS, CNR...
SMARTER will develop and deploy innovative strategies to improve Resilience and Efficiency (R&E) related traits in sheep and goats. SMARTER will find these strategies by: i) generating and validating novel R&E related traits at a phenotypic and genetic level ii) improving and developing new genome-based solutions and tools relevant for the data structure and size of small ruminant populations, iii) establishing new breeding and selection strategies for various breeds and environments that consider R&E traits . SMARTER with help from stakeholders chose several key R&E traits including feed efficiency, health (resistance to disease, survival) and welfare. Experimental populations will be used to identify and dissect new predictors of these R&E traits and the trade-off between animal ability to overcome external challenges. SMARTER will estimate the underlying genetic and genomic variability governing these R&E related traits. This variability will be related to performance in different environments including genotype-by-environment interactions (conventional, agro-ecological and organic systems) in commercial populations. The outcome will be accurate genomic predictions for R&E traits in different environments across different breeds and populations. SMARTER will also create a new cooperative European and international initiative that will use genomic selection across countries. This initiative will make selection for R&E traits faster and more efficient. SMARTER will also characterize the phenotype and genome of traditional and underutilized breeds. Finally, SMARTER will propose new breeding strategies that utilise R&E traits and trade-offs and balance economic, social and environmental challenges. The overall impact of the multi-actor SMARTER project will be ready-to-use effective and efficient tools to make small ruminant production resilient through improved profitability and efficiency.