Management strategies to improve herd resilience and efficiency by harnessing the adaptive capacities of small ruminants - ADAPT-HERD

To make Mediterranean small ruminant production systems more resilient and efficient in the light of climate change, the Adapt-Herd project is testing animals’ capacity to adapt and developing simulation tools for use in designing and implementing animal, herd and livestock production system adaptation strategies.
© S. Messad, CIRAD
© S. Messad, CIRAD
© S. Messad, CIRAD


The main effect of climate change on animal production systems in the Mediterranean is that it modifies food resource availability. Improving resilience and efficiency in response to climate change at herd level will help boost R&E at farm level.

The challenge is not so much to optimize R&E, but to look at how management strategies affect the links between resilience and efficiency, in the hope of finding comprises that both ensure acceptable incomes for farmers and guarantee the sustainability of farms.


Small ruminants have unique biological mechanisms that allow them to adapt to changes in food resource availability. The key concept behind the project is that this capacity to adapt can be used in management strategies aimed at boosting R&E at herd level. Adapt-Herd centres on three objectives:

  • Understanding and quantifying the adaptation capacity of small ruminants (sheep and goats).
  • Assessing farm resilience and efficiency (R&E) in line with various scenarios allowing for the effect of climate change on food resources, animals’ capacity to adapt, and farmers’ capacity to innovate.
  • Drafting innovative herd management strategies aimed at boosting R&E, including reproduction, herd demographics (renewal and culling), and feed management options.

Expected impacts

The project will have generated knowledge of the capacity of Mediterranean small ruminant breeds to adapt to food stress, thanks to a better understanding of the interaction between genotype and environment in the early stages of life and adult performance.

Making use of the capacity of local breeds to adapt will be helping to promote local biodiversity.

By assessing the effects of climate change scenarios on the resilience and efficiency of different technical options, the project will have provided results of use for supporting decision making. Those results will be applied by means of easy-to-use tools intended for researchers and stakeholders on the ground, with a view to finding an acceptable compromise between optimizing the efficiency and maintaining the resilience of Mediterranean small ruminant farms in the light of climate change.

Contract partners

  • INRAE (France)
  • APRI (Egypt)
  • INRAT, ESAK (Tunisia)
  • CITA (Spain)