To contribute creatively to solutions for more sustainable beef and sheep production and marketing systems in Great Britain.


This project brings together different disciplinary and One Health specialists from two collaborating universities; the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Hertfordshire to contribute creatively to solutions for more sustainable beef and sheep production and marketing systems in Great Britain. Our food systems are highly complex, dynamic, multi-faceted structures that include all enterprises, institutions, activities and relationships involved in food production, distribution and consumption. A sustainable food system “is a system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. This means that: – It is profitable throughout (economic sustainability); – It has broad-based benefits for society (social sustainability); and – It has a positive or neutral impact on the natural environment (environmental sustainability). “ (FAO, 2018). With a changing environment on the horizon, increasing human populations, economic growth, climate change and the UK leaving the EU, it is now more important than ever to identify areas to promote sustainability in livestock food systems. Therefore, in this project we investigate how beef and sheep production and marketing systems in Great Britain can continue to deliver valuable products to consumers and support livelihoods, while minimising the impact on animal health and welfare and the environment. Our overarching question is how we can achieve: More sustainable British beef and sheep production and marketing systems in a changing environment. To this end we are investigating how ruminant production and marketing systems can maximise quality food production and economic viability, while promoting sustainable land use and management including environmental and antimicrobial stewardship.  


Using trans-disciplinary, systems modelling approach we aim to map the British beef and sheep food systems and identify metrics of sustainability for each farming system to create an integrated model to assess impacts. To address these dynamic problems meta-models and system dynamic models will be utilised. Policies strategies for the public and private sectors and trends regarding production, consumption and market and trade flows will also be analysed to provide benchmarks against which any changes can be measured. A work package has been developed around each objective. We will investigate their impacts in terms of animal health, animal welfare, environment, livelihoods, food security, social needs and farming characteristics simultaneously considering the changing policy and governance landscape thereby gaining information on trends, trade-offs and potential co-benefits. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches will be used making use of the broad expertise in the team. A systems thinking approach allows non-linear, dynamic problems to be addressed, acknowledging that elements are linked with each other and the presence of feedback loops. This approach fits food systems allowing an understanding of the elements and drivers within the system. Systematic literature reviews, econometrics, policy analysis, system dynamic and meta-modelling, scenario modelling and case studies will all be used taking advantage of the broad skill set of the project team.


From the data and analysis, this project will construct policy road maps with different policy options for a more sustainable beef and sheep meat production in relation to the modelling outcomes produced. The role of key actors and their potential to lead change towards more sustainable practices and outcomes in these value chains will be identified along with the strategic policy directions and more specific policy instruments. 


University of Hertfordshire

The Cadogan Trust


Title Publication Year
Conceptualising Disruptions in British Beef and Sheep Supply Chains during the COVID-19 Crisis Sustainability  2022
Antimicrobial & antiparasitic use and resistance in British sheep and cattle: a systematic review. Prev Vet Med 2020 

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