C.1 Main/primary objectives
The main objective of the Action is to establish a network of European researchers working on various aspects of goats parasitology and health management to advance towards a better understanding of the different components explaining the specificities of goat-parasite interactions as well as to develop sustainable strategies to control parasitic diseases in goats.
C.2 Secondary objectives
More specifically, the following goals of the Action have been identified:
- To propose improved integrated methods of control specifically adapted to goat parasite infections;
- To provide better recommendations on the use of antiparasitic drugs resulting in reduced drug abuses and improved animal welfare at the farm level;
- To harmonize drug regulation for a so called minor species other than the main livestock species used in animal production;
- To improve goat breeding and support EU policy for traditional farming;
- To preserve the landscape, territory and European culture.
C.3 How will the objectives be achieved?
The Action aims at forming an interdisciplinary network of specialists in many disciplines: parasitology, ecology, pharmacology, physiology, pathology, immunology, ethology, biochemistry, veterinary science. It is thus essential that the Action strongly promotes interfaces between these disciplines and proposes a scheme for structuring and coordinating the various scientific tasks.
The requested means are i) links between the various research groups and the channel for knowhow transfer and ii) ways to ensure diffusion of results towards the public/end users community.
To achieve these objectives, the network will create structures:
- to facilitate exchanges between scientists within a discipline,
- to stimulate interactions between research groups of different disciplines, and
- to provide means adapted for the dissemination of results towards the various end users.
Therefore, besides a vertical line of organisation relying on Working Groups dedicated to scientific disciplines, the structure of the Action will also rely on horizontal activities dedicated to means of diffusion towards the different end-user categories.
It is expected that such a cross-over scheme will strengthen the general structure and cohesion of the Action and will facilitate the dissemination of its results and achievements towards the different target groups.
- These objectives will be first achieved by organising 4 Working Groups (WG), dedicated to 4 respective research areas, where the various research teams will be able to coordinate their activities:
- Epidemiology of parasitic infections
- Immune response to parasites
- Pharmacology-drug resistance
- Alternatives to chemical drugs
- Interactions between WGs, within the network, will be organised by yearly general conference and specialised workshops per disciplines in order to present and discuss results and important issues per and between disciplines.
- Diffusion towards the scientific community. Besides incitements to publish results in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, specialised publications will be edited after each Action conferences and workshops in order to assure a large diffusion of results. Two special publications on Recommendations for Safe and Cost-effective Control of Parasites in Goats and Guidelines for Pertinent Use of Antiparasitic Drugs in Goats will be edited as books or special issues of a scientific journal at the end of the Action. Links with other international consortiums involved in goat production (e.g. US Southern Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, International Goat Association (IGA)) will be promoted. Presentation of the results achieved through the Action will be stimulated by participation of scientists, particularly ESRs, to international conferences. As far as possible, connections with major conferences in either Parasitology and/or in Goat production will be sought by proposing Action conferences as satellite symposia.
- Training of young undergraduate students and Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will be actively promoted by
i) participation to specialised training schools, corresponding to each of the WG field, which will be organised; and
ii) involvement in students exchanges (STSMs) between the different groups involved in the Action.
- Dissemination of results towards the socio professional community, public and consumers. The results obtained within the Action will be widely diffused by means of an open access website and by the publications of articles in agricultural, veterinarians and professional press.
- Interactions with national and EU institutions. The results obtained in the Action will be shared with local institutions as Agricultural Services of the local governments of each participant country.
In addition, information will be made available to the ad hoc authorities through the web site and
the publications of results and proceedings of the Action conferences and workshops.
C.4 Benefits of the Action
The main expected advantages are:
- Improved knowledge on goat-parasite interactions:
By providing comparative data in sheep and goat, this novel approach will improve our overall knowledge on the mechanisms regulating parasite infections and on the possible balance between the behaviour and the immune regulative processes. Through this Action, it is intended to enhance research attractiveness and strengthen EU policy towards developing countries where goat production is economically important.
- Effective, integrated management scheme for safe and cost-effective control of parasites in goats:
As illustrated by the previous example on the long standing errors in anthelmintics (AH) use in goats, a better knowledge on the specific interactions between goat and parasite can have major practical consequences for the control of parasite infections, which remain main economical diseases in caprine flocks, can be massive. The first expected benefits of the Action will be a decrease in production losses due to parasitic diseases and an increase in health and welfare for the animals. Moreover, the possible impact on the quality, hygiene and safety of goat products is far from being negligible, making those goat products more attractive for the consumers, according to the concept Only healthy goat will provide healthy products.
- Definition of rules to harmonise drug administration in goats according to EU legislation The Action aims at generating knowledge and expertise and at providing the appropriate application tools in order to support government / commission regulation agencies policy on the use of drugs in orphan animal species.
- Socio economical impact:
The Action aims at improving, developing and/or implementing sustainable goat production systems in traditional rural areas. By supporting the transfer of knowledge, the Action will also favour the introduction and the development of goat rearing in Northern European countries since it is an excellent alternative livestock enterprise suitable for many small-scale or part-time livestock operations.
These expected benefits of CAPARA need to be considered with regard to the new European economic and societal policy which responding to the new challenges adapts its agricultural policy accordingly, supporting less intensive farming practices in order to improve the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission prospects of the farming sector, and stresses the need to preserve the environment and to restore ecosystems. EU acknowledges the urgent need for action to be taken to protect a thriving agricultural sector and a viable rural environment in Europe, not only for economic reasons but also with a view to the preservation of the landscape and food security and ensure a profitable and sustainable future for sheep and goat meat and milk production in Europe. This will encourage the consumption of such products and attract young farmers to the sector. Strengthening the market of goats and goat-related products will consent to maintain these traditional, eco-friendly farming enterprises and their role in providing a supply base of European sheep and goat farming products (European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the future of the sheep/lamb and goat sector in Europe (2007/2192(INI) and Report A6-0047/2008).
According to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform agreement, the support to the producer is now to a large extent uncoupled from production decisions, allowing farmers to make their choices in response to market signals, to rely on their farm potential and their preferences when adapting to changes in the economic environment. Furthermore, this policy increasingly contributes to heading off the risks of environmental degradation and to delivering many of the public goods that our societies expect. Today, while EU is preparing for the "Health Check" of the CAP reform, it is expected that competitiveness of the sector will be further increased and, at the same time, certain regions, especially but not exclusively mountainous, will be challenged by facing difficulties in keeping a minimum level of production. It is therefore timely important to propose the necessary measures that would mitigate the expected negative impact in specific regions and increase capacity of the animal production sector to achieve greater market orientation and increase its competitiveness.
C.5 Target groups/end users
The below mentioned target groups and/or end-users of this COST Action will be academia, the farming community, including farmers, veterinarian surgeons and agronomists, the pharmaceutical industry, national or supranational regulation authorities and the general public and particularly the consumers. Because of the reasons evoked in C4, many of these categories have already and strongly expressed interest in CAPARA, noticeably by participating in the elaboration of the project.
- Farmers and veterinary practitioners
- Pharmaceutical companies
- National/supranational regulation authorities
- International goat associations
It is expected that the special care taken in the Action to promote links with several associations (e.g. International Goat Association) will expand these targets groups outside Europe by reaching a large audience in developing countries.