Innovation in the production of sheep and goat meat

The integration of aromatic plants in animals’ diet can contribute in the development of differentiated products

Innovation in the production of sheep and goat meat

The quality of meat accessible to consumers as well as its differentiation based on the origin of its production are the basic factors which form its final price, securing at the same time the farmers’ interests. This principle is well understood and exploited by French farmers through the terroir concept (characteristics of region). The basic idea is that food, meat, cheese, wine and other food products, reveal all the particularities of their region of production through their taste. For example, by tasting “kalathaki” of Limnos island (a traditional, unique cheese of the island) one can taste the volcanic landscape of the island. What does this mean for the farmers of Limnos? No one can put pressure on the farmers to reduce the price of the cheese by saying for example that he/she can find cheaper milk elsewhere.

The integration of aromatic plants in sheep diet can contribute not only to the creation of differentiated products highly attractive to the customers, but also to the enhancement of productivity. This prospective was investigated by the author of the article in the context of the Action:” Elaboration of Research and Technological Developmental projects of innovation (AgroETAK)”.

As regards meat, aromatic plants like oregano, rosemary and sage can contribute to increased productivity through promoting development, like increasing the rate of convertibility of the food and the rate of the daily weight gain. The antioxidant effects of aromatic plants contribute to hindering the oxidation of lipids, which is the main cause of meat’s quality degradation over time – having also impact in its nutritional value, its taste, its aroma, its color and also its texture. These features can contribute to the product’s added value at every stage, from storing to remanufacture and from distribution to the final food preparation. In other words, meat can be preserved longer in the meat market staying at the same time nutritious for the consumer.

Greece, due to its unique geomorphic and bioclimatic conditions, is the ideal place for the production of aromatic plants with unique biodiversity. The exploitation of pastures with significant biodiversity is possible to assist retaining a low breeding cost and at the same time give at the final product the unique characteristics of every region. These unique characteristics of the product can contribute to its added value and to its more efficient promotion.

The increased productivity along with the spatial differentiation of the product can result to profits for the farm units. It is essential though for the farmer who plans to use the aforementioned aromatic plants to also take into account their cost along with their productive effects on the sheep before considering the benefit of this intervention. Thus, the application of this method needs to take place in cooperation with an expert livestock advisor who will take into account all the factors as well the development of the appropriate diets.