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Hormone-free non-seasonal or seasonal goat reproduction for a sustainable European goat-milk market

Final Report Summary - FLOCK-REPROD (Hormone-free non-seasonal or seasonal goat reproduction for a sustainable European goat-milk market)


Executive Summary:

FLOCK-REPROD (“Hormone-free non-seasonal or seasonal goat reproduction for a sustainable European goat-milk market”) is a European project that was supported by the 7th Framework Program (Capacities, Research for SME Associations) for a period of 4 years (from December 2009 to November 2013). It received funding of around EUR 1.7 million from the EU.

The FLOCK-REPROD project consortium involved 15 partners from 7 EU Member States (Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain). The partners included 7 Research organisms (Research Institutes or Universities) leading research for the benefit of 8 SME and SME associations (goat breeders, one milk factory, breeders associations and semen production centers). The associations represented more than 1500 breeders, and were led by CAPGENES (France).

The project aimed at developing innovative solutions to ensure the supply of hormone-free goat's milk and related products (such as cheese and butter) all year round. FLOCK-REPROD proposed solutions based on technologies that require no hormonal treatment and allow both the control of seasonality of goat reproduction and the application of artificial insemination (AI). In this manner, FLOCK-REPROD will help goat breeders produce more milk (including organic goat milk), and provide an alternative way to meet EU legal requirements which restricts the use of hormonal treatments (such as progestagens currently used by dairy goat breeders to control reproductive cycles and enable AI).

The FLOCK-REPROD project has focused on the 11 main goat breeds used by the European milk industry, including highly seasonal northern breeds (Alpine, Saanen, Carpathian, White of Banat) and moderately seasonal southern ones (Damascus, Scopelos, Capra prisca, Murciano-Granadina, Malagueña, Serrana, Sarda). This approach ensured that the project’s findings are applicable across the EU.

The researchers have developed 3 new progestagen-free AI protocols involving procedures based on the male effect and light treatments to induce and synchronize ovulations in any season. For that purpose, throughout the project, different experiments were carried out to define both breeding and non-breeding season in all breeds involved in the project. The ability of males to induce ovulation in sexually inactive females (the male effect) was characterized for each breed. The requirement of light treatments (based on changing the length of the photoperiod during a scheduled period of time) was found to be crucial to improve the male effect in most breeds and besides, two new light treatments were tested. Nutritional strategies for females and some male management approaches were also studied and these resulted in the definition of the male effect protocol to be applied by all partners and for all AI protocols. The on-farm implementation of a new light treatment allowing the use of male effect during the breeding season was validated. Finally, other experiments led to the development of the 3 new AI protocols (named PG1, PG2 and HF).

FLOCK-REPROD AI protocols exclude the use of progestagens. PG1 and PG2 are based on either 1 (PG1) or 2 (PG2) injections of prostaglandin (pharmacological substance that is not subjected to residues constraints in animal products). The HF protocol is hormone-free, and can thus be applied in organic farms.

The new AI protocols have been tested in private farms in field conditions by all SMEs and SME associations, so that they can be validated from a technical and economical point of view.

Protocol’s technical results were good enough to be implemented by farmers. The best results were obtained with HF (58% of pregnancy on average, similar to what is observed with the classical hormonal treatment) followed by PG2 (54% of pregnancy on average) and PG1 (45% of pregnancy on average). The main problem linked to the implementation of PG1 and HF protocols was the high variability of fertility results depending on farms.

The new AI protocols were less efficient in terms of working time and costs of inputs, in comparison to the classical hormonal treatment. PG1 was the most time-consuming protocol followed by HF and PG2. HF appeared to be the most expensive protocol whereas PG2 was cheaper than PG1. The increased workload and the higher costs generated by the new AI protocols were mainly due to the number of supplementary bucks needed to carry out the male effect (higher feed costs and time-consuming buck’s handling).

In the last part of the project, training materials (a DVD and a practical guide) presenting the new protocols were developed for breeders and technicians. Moreover, the FLOCK-REPROD trademark was registered within the EU.

Project Context and Objectives:

The market for specialty foods and especially goat cheese is booming; not only in Europe but also in the US and beyond. The EU is the source of 17% of the world’s production of goat’s cheese which is one of the fastest growing segments within the cheese market. Goat’s milk is appreciated as being a ‘healthier’ option providing higher protein and lower cholesterol than cheeses made from cow’s milk. Furthermore, it is easier to digest and is less allergenic than cow’s milk products. However despite this growing demand for goat milk products, production is lagging behind market demand. This is due to the key challenge posed to breeders: the seasonality of production. Indeed, goats from high latitudes (>35°) and also from subtropical latitudes (25°-35°) exhibit seasonal changes in reproductive activity, accompanied by variations in the availability of products over the year. In order for the market to grow and satisfy its growing demand, solutions need to be found to enable goat’s milk to be produced all year round.

Currently, reproduction of goats outside the natural breeding season can be achieved by several strategies: hormonal treatments, day-length (referred to as the “photoperiod”) manipulation and the “male effect” (a natural way based on social interactions male-female). Among these 3 possibilities, only procedures based on the use of hormones have become widespread in the community of breeders all over Europe, especially as hormonal treatments allow efficient use of artificial insemination (AI). Indeed, AI is the privileged way to accelerate genetic progress of goat breeds subjected to selection programs, resulting in the rise of sanitary conditions, quality and quantity of the milk produced.

The main concern of the hormonal treatments is that EU legislation restricts the use of hormones (in particular progestagens currently used by dairy goat breeders to control goat reproduction cycles and enable AI) and these legal requirements are expected to be enforced more strictly soon in order to consistently protect people from any health risks. Moreover, the current legislation compels French farmers to discard from consumption any goat′s milk produced in the first days following the use of a progestagen treatment. This requirement leads to a significant economic loss for breeders. In addition, consumer’s growing demand for healthier food and organic production means that natural reproductive methods need to be further developed.

The project aimed at developing innovative solutions to ensure the supply of hormone-free goat's milk and related products (such as cheese and butter) all year round. This should enable the EU dairy-goat industry to be more competitive through a constant supply of goat’s milk and derived products (such as organic products) all year round.

The project proposed to test and provide alternative methods that require no hormonal treatment and allow both the control of seasonality of goat reproduction and the application of AI. The studied methods were based on the male effect and the day-length manipulation (light treatments based on changing the length of the photoperiod during a scheduled period of time).

The main objectives of the project were:

(1) To master the use of the male effect combined with light treatments as a tool to induce synchronous ovulations in dairy goats for optimal efficiency of artificial insemination in and out of the natural reproduction season;
(2) To develop protocols/tools (male effect protocol, light treatment protocols, AI protocols) well adapted to both small and large goat farms, different EU geographical locations, technical constraints and goat breeds;
(3) To demonstrate the feasibility of these techniques with end-users from technical, operational, environmental and economic perspectives;
(4) To produce a training module and a user-guide to ensure take-up of the FLOCK-REPROD technology by all EU breeders;
(5) To validate a “business model” to facilitate the exploitation of the FLOCK-REPROD techniques at a European level via a European Technical Group and the FLOCK-REPROD Trademark.

To achieve the project goals, the work plan was structured in 6 work packages, each having specific objectives:

In the 3 Research & Development work packages (WP1 to 3), the RTD partners carried out experiments to test and improve the different techniques proposed. The SMEs were also involved in some parts of this experimental work. The main outcome from these 3 WPs was to propose a series of protocols based on the use of the male effect and light treatment to obtain a high-level of synchronization of ovulations and to enable optimal AI procedures during the breeding and non-breeding seasons.

The objective of WP1 was to define an efficient male effect protocol. The experimental work was designed in 3 steps to answer 3 key questions.

The first step was dedicated to the study of seasonal variations of the sexual activity of males and females, in order to establish for each breed what periods of the year are suitable to perform the male effect protocol.

The second step had two objectives: (1) to determine if light treatments are necessary to improve the male effect at different periods of the year and (2) to determine the most suitable period of the year to perform the male effect without using light treatments.

The objective of the third step was to improve, simplify and standardize the male effect protocol by applying nutritional strategies to females and several management strategies to males.

In parallel to WP1, the WP2 was dedicated to the development of some innovative light treatments avoiding the use of melatonin implants (melatonin is an hormone used for the application of photoperiodic treatments in some periods of the year) and applicable in open barns, in order to improve the male effect during both the breeding and the non-breeding seasons.

The main objective of WP3 was to develop progestagen-free AI protocols using the male effect and photoperiodic protocols to induce and synchronize ovulations. The experimental work was designed to reduce the number of repeated AIs required to achieve good fertility. In that WP, both prostaglandin-based protocols (prostaglandins are not subjected to restrictions concerning residues constraints in animal products) and hormone-free AI protocols were studied.

The “Demonstration” work package (WP4) involved all the SME Associations and SMEs of the project with the objective to test in field conditions the final protocols developed in WP1-WP3, so that they could be optimized and validated before the dissemination and exploitation of the project’s results in WP5.

The “Technology transfer and outreach” work package (WP5) was dedicated to the development of a user-guide and a training course (DVD) for the dissemination and transfer of the FLOCK-REPROD protocols to end-users outside the project and to set up the overall exploitation of the project’s results (trademark, licenses, creation of an European technical group etc.).

Finally, a work package (WP6) was dedicated to management activities.

The FLOCK-REPROD project involved the 11 main goat breeds used by the European milk industry, including highly seasonal northern breeds (Alpine, Saanen, Carphatian, White of Banat) and moderately seasonal southern ones (Damascus, Scolpelos, Capra prisca, Murciano-Granadina, Malagueña, Serrana, Sarda). The different goat production systems found in EU were also represented in the project: extensive (Greece, Southern Italy) semi-extensive (Portugal), semi-intensive (Spain) and intensive systems (Spain, France, Romania, Northern Italy, Croatia). This approach will ensure that the project’s findings will be applicable all across EU.

Project Results:

The project aimed at developing innovative solutions to ensure the supply of hormone-free goat's milk and related products (such as cheese and butter) all year round.

The project proposed to test and provide alternative method that require no hormonal treatment and allow both the control of seasonality of goat reproduction along with the application of AI. The studied methods were based on the male effect (a natural way based on social interactions male-female) and the day-length manipulation (light treatments based on changing the length of the photoperiod during a scheduled period of time). The main purpose of the project was to develop hormone-free AI protocols using the male effect to induce and synchronize ovulations in and out of the breeding season.

Experiments were performed on Alpine and Saanen goats in France, on Saanen goats in Croatia, on Murciano-Granadina and Malagueña goats in Spain, on Sarda goats in Italy, on Serrana goats in Portugal, on Capra-Prisca, Damascus and Scopelos goats in Greece, and finally on White of Banat and Carpathian goats in Romania.

Results are divided in 5 parts:

(1) Definition of the male effect protocol (WP1).
(2) New light treatments with no use of melatonin implants, to improve the male effect during the breeding and the non-breeding season (WP2).
(3) New progestagen-free AI protocols using the male effect to induce and synchronize ovulations during the breeding and the non-breeding season (WP3).
(4) Large-scale technical and economical validation of the new AI protocols under field conditions (WP4).
(5) Production of a training course (DVD) and a practical guide for breeders and technicians (WP5).

(1) Definition of the male effect protocol.

The experimental work was designed in 3 steps to answer 3 key questions.

Firstly, the data about seasonal variations of the sexual activity of males and females were updated in order to establish which periods of the year are suitable to perform the male effect protocol in local breeds. Experiments were performed in local breeds from Romania (Carpathian, White of Banat) and Greece (Scopelos, Damascus) for which detailed reproductive seasonality data were not available. FLOCK-REPROD results together with previous reports approved that, under natural photoperiod, all breeds involved in the project exhibit a period during the year at which most of goats are cycling (90-100% of cyclic goats: the breeding season), a period of sexual rest (0-10% of cyclic goats: the non–breeding season or seasonal anestrus) and a transition period between the breeding and the non-breeding season. These periods however differ among breeds. May and June are seasonal anestrus months shared by all the breeds involved in the project. November, December and January are breeding season months shared by all the breeds involved in the project. The characterization of seasonal variations in goat sexual activity is now available for all the breeds involved in the project. Breeders must take into account these periods in order to apply efficiently FLOCK-REPROD protocols in each breed.

Secondly, the requirement of light treatments (based on changing the length of the photoperiod during a scheduled period of time) to improve the male effect was studied in most breeds at different periods during the seasonal anestrus. On the one hand, experiments were carried out to determine the most suitable period of the year to perform the male effect without using light treatments. This part of the work was performed in local breeds from Greece and Portugal, as in these countries there are technical limitations to apply light treatments in most farms. Under a natural photoperiod, the response to the male effect was adequate in Greek breeds (Damascus, Scopelos and Capra prisca) at the end of the anestrus period (July-August) but ineffective in the middle of the seasonal anestrus (March-June). In Serrana goats from Portugal, using the male effect without applying previously a photoperiodic treatment to both males and females could not induce adequate estrous response and ovulatory activity at the end of April.

On the other hand, experiments were conducted to determine if photoperiodic treatments of males and/or females were necessary to improve the response to the male effect in breeds for which the benefits of photoperiodic treatments had not been previously studied (Serrana, Saanen, Sarda, Carpathian and White of Banat breeds). The experiments were performed at one or at several moments in the seasonal anestrus, depending on the objectives of SMEs and SME-associations. In all the studied breeds, results showed that the treatment of both males and females is necessary to improve the ovulatory response and avoid delayed responses after male exposure. Photoperiodic treatments are thus recommended to be applied in order to improve the male effect during seasonal anoestrus in all breeds involved in the project, with the exception of the Murciano-Granadina breed. The benefits of light treatments in Malagueña and Greek breeds still remain to be studied.

Thirdly, another objective of FLOCK-REPROD project was to develop a more efficient, practical and standardized male effect protocol in order to improve the response and reduce its variability for AI purposes. Experimental protocols were carried out in Alpine, Saanen, Serrana and Capra prisca goats.

On the one hand, two short-term energetic supplementation strategies aiming at increasing the female responsiveness to male exposure were studied. The response to the male effect was compared in goats subjected or not to an energetic supplementation in the diet based on either rumen protected fat and omega-3 fatty acids (FLAXPRO®; tested in Serrana goats) or on propylene-glycol (NUTRI’AP ENERGIE GRANULES® ; tested in Alpine goats). Fertility was not good enough for goats supplemented with FLAXPRO®. The supplementation of goats with NUTRI’AP ENERGIE GRANULES® tended to advance and improve the synchronization of the 1st buck-induced fertile ovulation. Further researches are however needed before these nutritional strategies could be recommended and used in field conditions. That is why those strategies were not included in the final protocols that were implemented during demonstration activities.

On the other hand, experiments were conducted to explore different male management strategies in order to reduce the number of males and the male’s handling time necessary to carry out the male effect. The efficiency of the male effect was compared in males presenting different libido levels (low, medium or high), by testing different length of continuous contact between males and females (4, 8 or 14 days), by evaluating the minimum daily contact length between males and females needed to optimize the male effect response (6, 12 or 24 hours of daily contact) and by testing different male:female ratios (1:10, 1:20, 1:40). The libido of bucks did not influence the response of goats to the male effect and the best response of females was obtained when males and females were kept in permanent contact (24h/24h) for a minimum of 8 consecutive days and with a ratio of 1 buck per 10 goats. These findings were part of the given recommendations to perform the male effect during demonstration activities.

In conclusion, the WP1 results led to define an efficient male effect protocol and provided detailed informations about the time of the 1st buck-induced fertile ovulation (the target for artificial insemination) for all breeds involved in the project. The 1st fertile ovulation occurred 7-9 days after male exposure according to breeds and experimental conditions. These results were taken into account to design the final AI protocols that were tested and implemented in field conditions.

(2) New light treatments without using melatonin implants to improve the male effect during the breeding and non-breeding season (WP2).

Currently, classical photoperiodic treatments consists in subjecting animals to a long days treatment for 90 days (16h of continuous lighting per day: day length at the summer solstice) followed by either a short days treatment for 60 days (8h-12h of continuous lighting per day) or a melatonin treatment (mimicking short days). Melatonin should be used when the long days treatment ends too late in the year for the natural days to be considered as “short days” or when the breeder’s work schedule doesn’t enable the animals to receive 12 continuous hours of complete darkness.

Two new light treatments avoiding the use of melatonin implants and applicable in open barns were studied in order to improve the male effect during both the breeding and the non-breeding seasons. Experiments were carried out in Alpine and Saanen breeds.

The first light treatment studied consisted in very long days (18h or 20h of daylight) followed by long days (14h or 16h of daylight). This strategy failed in providing an efficient stimulatory short-day signal to induce goat sexual activity out-of-breeding season and was thus inadequate for a use in field conditions. The use of melatonin implants is still required to implement the male effect in summer.

The second light treatment consisted in subjecting the goats to the continuous alternation of 90 long days – 90 short days – 90 long days – 90 short days all over the year. This treatment aimed at allowing the use of male effect in non-cyclic goats during the breeding season. The experimental work was conducted in two steps. Firstly, the sexual activity of females (cyclic spontaneous ovulatory activity) and males (plasmatic levels of testosterone) were followed all along the treatment and compared between animals receiving either natural days only or both natural days and melatonin implants during the short days phase. Sexual activity of both males and females was inhibited during the long days phase and stimulated during the short days phase, as expected and in a similar manner in the animals treated or not with melatonin when the protocol started in December. Results allowed thus to consider the use of the male effect in non-cyclic goats in November (breeding season) without using melatonin. In a second step, the efficiency of the male effect in goats subjected to this new light treatment was evaluated and validated in a private flock. This strategy was implemented by French farmers during demonstration activities.

(3) New progestagen-free AI protocols using the male effect to induce and synchronize ovulations during the breeding and non-breeding season (WP3).

The objective was to develop prostaglandin-based and hormone-free AI protocols using the male effect to induce and synchronize ovulations and involving the lowest number of interventions for AI. Experiments were carried out in Murciano-Granadina, Malagueña, Alpine, Saanen, Serrana and Sarda goats in order (a) to determine the best time for prostaglandin F2alpha (PG) administration after male exposure in and out of the breeding season, (b) to establish the best time for AI after PG administration in and out of the breeding season and (c) to determine the optimal fertility gap for the application of AI at a fixed time using hormone-free strategies.

# Development of prostaglandin-based AI protocols to be applied in non-cyclic goats:

In a first step, the response to the male effect was compared between goats treated with PG 13, 15 or 17 days after male introduction during the non-breeding season (when 90-100% or the goats are not cycling). Days 13 and 17 were the most suitable times for PG administration, inducing highly synchronized ovulations. PG administration on day 17 was the most suitable time in order to avoid the risks of delayed responses to the male effect.

In a second step, experiments were conducted during the non-breeding season to determine the best time for AI after PG administration on day 13 or day 17 following male introduction. Fertility was satisfactory (pregnancy rate: 52%) with 1 single AI at 62h or 68h after PG injection on day 13. Alternatively, a significantly higher pregnancy rate (~50%) was obtained with AI performed at 70h after PG injection on day 17, compared to AI at 64h (~40%).

The protocol based on 1 single PG injection on day 17 after male effect and AI performed at 70h after PG injection was recommended to be implemented by farmers during demonstration activities (protocol named PG1).

# Development of prostaglandin-based AI protocols to be applied in cyclic goats:

Goats are cycling during the breeding season. In cyclic goats, 2 PG injections are needed to induce luteolysis and synchronize the ovulatory cycles in a group of females. In a first step, experiments were conducted to determine the most suitable time interval between the two PG injections in cyclic goats during the breeding season. The experimental protocol consisted in the administration of the first PG on the day of male introduction. The ovulatory response was then evaluated among goats treated with a second PG injection on day 9, 11 or 13 after male introduction; these times corresponding to three differents states of development of the corpora lutea. Secondly, AI protocols involving one insemination at a fixed time were performed. The results indicate that 9 days is the most advisable interval between prostaglandin injections, inducing highly synchronized ovulations. Moreover, AI trials using a 9-day interval between PG injections and involving 1 single AI 60h after the second PG injection yielded very good fertility rates (56% with frozen-thawed semen, and 80% with cooled semen). This AI protocol was thus recommended to be implemented by farmers during demonstration activities (protocol named PG2).

# Development of hormone-free AI protocols to be applied in non-cyclic goats:

In a first step, experiments were conducted to test a new strategy based on short-term exposure of females to the males (pre-stimulation) before the male effect, in order to improve the synchrony of the male-induced ovulations during the non-breeding season without using any hormone. The response to the male effect was compared in goats exposed to males during 6, 12, 48 or 72 hours starting 6 or 7 days before the male effect. The time of male-induced ovulations was put forward by exposure to the males during 48 h and 72 h before the male effect; however this led to a clearly lower synchronization of ovulations. In contrast, a short exposure to males for 6 or 12h 6-7 days before male introduction increased the synchronization of the buck-induced fertile ovulations. Taking into account milking management practices, a pre-stimulation period involving 12 h of male exposure 7 days before the male effect, appeared to be the most convenient hormone-free protocol to be implemented in dairy goat flocks, and was thus used for the validation of subsequent AI protocols.

In a second step, experiments were conducted to establish the most suitable AI times using the previously proposed hormone-free pre-stimulation protocol. Two AI protocols were evaluated. In the first protocol, following the male effect, goats were inseminated at two different times (12h or 24h) after the moment at which 50% of goats were in estrus (this moment was called “positive detection”; non-predetermined AI time); a higher and acceptable pregnancy rate was obtained with AI at 24h compared to AI at 12h (53% vs 33%). In the other protocol, AI was performed either on day 7.5 or day 8 after the male effect without estrus detection (predetermined AI time); unexpectedly, pre-stimulation caused the advancement of fertile ovulations that occurred around 7 days ahead of schedule. As a result, pregnancy rates after AI at pre-determined times were very low (lower than 15%). In conclusion, the final Hormone-free AI protocol to be implemented in demonstration discarded pre-stimulation strategies (to avoid the risk of early ovulations) and involved 1 single AI at a time based on the occurrence of estrus (to take into account the variability in the response to the male effect between flocks, breeds and geographical locations). This AI protocol was named HF.

(4) Large-scale technical and economical validation of the new AI protocols under field conditions (WP4).

During demonstration activities (WP4) a large-scale technical and economical validation of WP1-WP3 final protocols was carried out by all SMEs and associations of SMEs in collaboration with research institutes. WP4 activities involved a total of 3819 goats (9 breeds) in 56 farms from 7 countries. In each farm, fertility rates were compared between groups of goats treated with the commercial hormonal treatment (control group HT) and groups of goats treated with the new AI protocols (PG1, PG2 or HF).

# The PG2 protocol can be used during the breeding season, when 100% females are cyclic, without a previous photoperiodic treatment. This protocol is based on the male effect and on two injections of PGF2alpha, and involves 1 single AI at a predetermined time following the second PG injection.

During demonstration of PG2 and HT protocols in field conditions, the kidding rate varied from 30% to 84% depending mainly on farms. This kidding rate variability was observed with both PG2 (ranged from 30% to 76%) and HT protocols (ranged from 34% to 84%). With the PG2 protocol, the kidding rate was satisfactory (52% on average) but around 8% lower compared to the HT protocol (60% on average).

# PG1 and HF protocols can be used during the non-breeding season, when 0 to 10 % of the females are cyclic, after a classical photoperiodic treatment (except in Murciano-Granadina breed, for which light treatment is not necessary). These protocols can also be applied during the breeding season (when 100% females are cyclic) provided that the animals have received previously the new photoperiodic treatment based on the continuous alternation of 3 months of long days and 3 months of short days, so that less than 10% of the females would be cyclic at the time of the male effect.

*The PG1 protocol is based on the male effect and on 1 single injection of PGF2 alpha. The protocol involves 1 single AI at a predetermined time following PG injection. During implementation of the AI protocols in field conditions, PG1 allowed to obtain acceptable pregnancy rates (45%, on average), although 10-30% lower than those obtained with HT protocol. Pregnancy rate was also highly variable between farms and this variability was observed with both PG1 (ranged from 9% to 92%) and HT protocols (ranged from 33% to 93%).

*The HF protocol is based on the male effect and 1 single AI at a fixed time based on the occurrence of estrus. During demonstration in field conditions, 2 AI times were compared (AI at 12h vs. 24h after “positive detection day”). The mean day of positive detection was 7.8 (ranged from 7.5 to 8.5). The threshold of “50% marked goats” within 8 full days was not achieved in 8 of 21 farms involved in the demonstration phase. AI 24h after “positive detection” allowed obtaining a higher pregnancy rate compared to AI at 12h (57% vs. 45%). In the HF protocol with a single AI at 24h after positive detection (HF-24h), around 50% (on average) of the goats exposed to males were inseminated with a mean pregnancy rate of 58%, similar to what was obtained in the HT protocol (60%). As observed with the other AI protocols, pregnancy rate also varied between farms with both the HF-24h (ranged from 17% to 93%) and HT protocols (ranged from 31% to 93%).

Regarding the cost/benefit analysis, the new protocols (PG2, PG1 and HF) were, in general, less performing in terms of working time and costs of inputs, in comparison to the classical hormonal treatment (HT). PG1 was the most time-consuming protocol followed by HF and PG2. HF appeared to be the most expensive protocol during both the breeding and non-breeding seasons, whereas PG2 was cheaper than PG1 during the breeding season. The increased workload and the higher costs generated by the new AI protocols in comparison to the HT protocol were mainly due to the number of supplementary bucks needed to carry out the male effect (higher feed costs and time-consuming bucks’ handling).

Although total costs of inputs were higher for PG1 and PG2 than HT protocols, fixed costs associated with insemination were lower, mainly due to savings concerning the hormones’ costs (PMSG and sponges). In contrast, the fixed costs of HF protocol remained higher than the ones of HT protocol in most countries, because of the need to perform the male effect with double number of goats.

(5) Production of a training course (DVD) and a practical guide for breeders and technicians (WP5).

# Implementation

This task was led by INRA and Capgenes, to whom the other consortium partners had delegated the realization of the practical guide and DVD. The table of content of the guide and the video was established according to the Document of Work (DoW) drafted for the submission of the project. The contents had been discussed during annual meetings during Period 1 and 2 and were validated during the consortium meetings during Period 3 and beginning of Period 4.

The content of the video was slightly different than that foreseen in the Document of Work (DoW) : theoretical and practical parts were mixed to make the whole film more lively and easy to follow (instead of having a 1st exclusively theoretical part and a 2nd practical part).

The content of the technical guide covered all the planned content except for the section on « How to ensure maximum economical and technical benefits from the use of the technology ». This section was dependent on the results of the WP4 cost/benefit analysis. As the deliverable D4.3 had been postponed to M47, the results were not available on time to be integrated in the content.

Two companies were hired by INRA through a tender at the beginning of Period 4 to develop the video and technical guide for the FLOCK-REPROD project. Regular meetings with INRA and Capgènes were held with each company to supervise their work on the training material.

The precise content of each document was drafted chapter by chapter by INRA and Capgènes and reviewed by partners from December 2012 until June 2013.

The final documents “FLOCK-REPROD technical guide” and “FLOCK-REPROD pedagogical video” were presented to partners during the closure meeting held in Tours in November 2013.

#Content and delivered end-products

Training materials (a DVD and a practical guide) about the new AI protocols have been developed for breeders and technicians. The guide and DVD have been registered for copyright as a single multi-media document under a single ISBN number (1 ISBN per language). These were edited in 8 languages, including the 7 consortium native languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, Greek, and Croatian) and English. Each partner SME association received 210 copies of this multi-media document in its own native language and 30 copies in English.

1. Table of content of the practical guide:

CHAPTER 1

SEASONALITY OF REPRODUCTION IN GOATS

- What is seasonality?
- Why breeding out of natural breeding season?
- How to manipulate seasonality?
- How does seasonality depend on the breed and the country?

CHAPTER 2

THE MALE EFFECT

- What is the male effect?
- Interest
- How can you implement the male effect?
- When can you apply the male effect?

CHAPTER 3

PHOTOPERIODIC TREATMENTS

- What is a photoperiodic treatment?
- Interest
- How can you implement one?
- When can you use a photoperiodic treatment?

CHAPTER 4

FLOCK-REPROD INSEMINATION PROTOCOLS

- Interest of artificial insemination?
- Aim of FLOCK-REPROD insemination protocols
- How to use them?

GLOSSARY

2. Table of content of the DVD training course:

- INTRODUCTION (General presentation of goat milk production context and FLOCK-REPROD project)
- BASIC CONCEPTS OF GOAT REPRODUCTION
- Anatomy
- Puberty and first breeding
- The ovarian cycle
- Sexual behavior
- Seasonality
- ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION AFTER HORMONAL TREATMENT
- Vaginal sponge deposition
- Intramuscular injection of PMSG and cloprostenol
- Vaginal sponge removal
- Heat detection
- Insemination
- User’s opinion
- PHOTOPERIODIC TREATMENTS
- Simulating long days
- Simulating short days
- Treatment description
- Application tips
- User’s opinion
- THE MALE EFFECT
- Principle of the male effect
- Male effect implementation
- Implementation period of the male effect
- User’s opinion
- FLOCK-REPROD INSEMINATION PROTOCOLS
- PG1
- PG2
- Hormone-Free (HF)
- User’s opinion

# Outcome

These documents are major outcomes of the project.

Although the final protocols may still require adjustments and updating (to meet the objective of achieving equivalent results to HT protocols), and the end-users may need technical support to implement them, still the guide and video convey major updates and clarifications of both photoperiodic and male effect techniques.

It was decided by the consortium not to disseminate the guide on a free-access basis. The documents will be disseminated by SMEs associations to their technicians while training them on FLOCK-REPROD protocols to accompany the breeders who wish to become licensees of the FLOCK-REPROD trademark. Because implementing FLOCK-REPROD final protocols require technical support (beyond the reading or viewing of the FLOCK-REPROD documents), it is important that partner SMEs associations support their breeders willing to commit to the project’s philosophy.

However, all content dealing with seasonality, male effect, photoperiodic treatment, insemination and goat reproduction could easily be used on a large scale for technicians and breeders to refine their knowledge and techniques.

Potential Impact:

(1) GENERAL SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT AND SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE PROJECT RESULTS

(a) Impact on regulatory requirements

Directive 96/22/EC prohibits in stock-farming the use of some substances having a hormonal action including progestagens, however some derogation exist. Indeed, the use of progestagens for oestrus synchronization is authorized as a zootechnical treatment, but is strictly controlled in order to prevent any misuse of veterinary medicinal products (a withdrawal period must be respected for the sale of meat and milk depending on commercial products and particular exigencies of each European country). Nowadays, progestagens can be used by dairy goat breeders to control reproductive cycles and enable the use of artificial insemination (AI) during the breeding and the non-breeding season. However, the maximum residue levels (MRLs) authorised for the sale of milk and meat are periodical reviewed, which frequently results in either a decrease of MRLs or a ban on the use of a particular pharmacological substance. FLOCK-REPROD project addressed this question in a proactive way by working on the development of some alternative options to the use of hormonal treatments.

FLOCK-REPROD results provide goat breeders with alternative methods avoiding the use of progestagen-based hormonal treatments and enabling goat’s reproduction with AI during the breeding and the non-breeding season. All progestagen-free FLOCK-REPROD protocols (Prostaglandin-based AI protocols, hormone-free AI protocols, and light treatments with or without melatonin) are in conformity with the current 96/22/EC regulation. Some of the FLOCK-REPROD protocols require the use of prostaglandins or melatonin, however those substances are not subjected to maximum residue levels constraints in animal products. Moreover, FLOCK-REPROD results also provide hormone-free methods (hormone-free AI protocols, light treatments without melatonin) to farmers enabling them to produce hormone-free goat milk all along the year. This would be a great benefit for goat breeders in the case of a total prohibition on the use of hormones in animal production. Moreover, hormone-free FLOCK-REPROD protocols can also enable the EU breeders to convert to organic production (which has a higher added value) and to meet the growing needs of organic dairy products in Europe. This would help the goat dairy industry to fulfil the EC objectives for organic farming (CE 889/2008).

(b) Impact on animal health, food safety and consumer health

FLOCK-REPROD protocols are promoting the use of artificial insemination for goats’ reproduction because of:

i) A health interest: AI offers sanitary guarantees and is an effective tool for limiting the spread of animal diseases, including some emerging ones which could also be zoonotic and would directly threaten human health,
ii) A genetic interest: AI is also a tool for improving the genetic selection of more robust and healthy animals in the context of a sustainable production.

As mentioned above, FLOCK-REPROD protocols will have a strong impact on food safety because they are either hormone-free or promoting the use of substances that are not subjected to maximum residue levels in milk and meat (such as prostaglandins or melatonin). In that way, the project’s results will help goat breeders to produce more ecologically all along the year in order to satisfy the market’s growing demand for healthier products. Additionally, goat’s milk is known to be easier to digest and less allergenic than cow’s milk and to contain fewer calories and less cholesterol. The farmers whose products carry the FLOCK-REPROD logo will be more easily recognized on the market as a “healthy and safe” option.

(c) Economic impact for SMEs/SME Associations and their members

Considering a scenario involving no change in the Directive 96/22/EC, the beneficial economic impact of FLOCK-REPROD results would address mainly to organic producers. Indeed, FLOCK-REPROD protocols will enable these breeders to produce out of the breeding season and to use AI, allowing them to increase their production earnings thanks to genetic progress (around 3% per year in France) and to out-of-season milk production (for example in France, out-of-season milk price is 13% higher).

In contrast, the conventional EU producers would have less interest to implement the FLOCK-REPROD AI protocols because of their lower technical results (despite the achievement of good enough fertility results, they are lower to those obtained with the classical hormonal treatment), the time consuming practices and some higher costs (despite saving the cost of hormones). However, the FLOCK-REPROD trademark has a certain environmental and food-safety added value that could encourage some conventional producers to adhere to it in order to benefit from a clear advantage on the dairy market.

Hormone-free FLOCK-REPROD protocols are relevant for organic farming today, but could become essential for all animal breeding systems in the future, regarding the scenario involving the total ban on the use of hormones in animal production. In this situation, FLOCK-REPROD results would have a beneficial economic impact on the whole community of goat farmers and for the goat milk industry in general by enabling goat breeders to (1) benefit from the economic advantage of out-of-season production, (2) ensure the supply of hormone-free goat milk and related products all along the year, and (3) benefit from the economic and sanitary advantages of AI. These three key benefits would contribute to maintain or even develop goats’ breeding (which is essentially a rural activity), make the EU dairy goat industry more competitive with foreign imports and increase their export potential all along the year.

(2) POTENTIAL IMPACT OF RESULTS ON THE COUNTRIES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT

The main opinions about FLOCK-REPROD protocols of FLOCK REPROD partners are as follows:

ITALY

The main objective of FLOCK REPROD project was to define, to test and to validate new technologies able to ensure goats reproduction without using hormones and associated with artificial insemination technology all year long.

The first project result is “reproduction without hormones”, that have important and general impacts on ecology and environment, human health and wellbeing and a best image of goats breeding and goat’s milk products for the consumers.

So not only the organic farm chain, but also all goats’ milk industry is interested in the opportunity to propose to customers some certified products with a quality and healthy label.

Reduction or elimination of hormones from animal production practices has another important economic impact for Italian goats breeders because, in Italy (as like in Croatia), the cost of the commercial hormonal treatment is higher than the European average.

Reproduction without hormones also means less costs and constraints for Italian breeders because, in Italy, current legislation about the use of hormones is very tough and complex (specific registration for traceability is needed and difficult and in-farm supervision and application should be assured by a Veterinarian).

The dissemination of the results also allows all the actors of goat’s production chain (breeders, technicians, researchers, industry) to be equipped face to an eventual EU full suppression of hormone use in animal production.

The second project result is “reproduction associated with AI”, that means important advantages for the breeders, because AI technology allows less sanitary risks for humans, animals and products because the introduction of bucks from foreign flocks is no more necessary. AI also allows more genetic variability and biodiversity, even in the spread breeds (Alpine and Saanen) but above all in the local breeds. Genetic improvement according to economic objectives of breeders and milk industry is also supported by AI technology, with the opportunity to direct the selection to new characters (quality and healthy milk compounds) requested by the market.

The third project result is “reproduction all year long”, that allows the breeders to accomplish the breeding all year long instead of being dependent on strongly seasonal breeding and milk production. This has a real economic impact for the goat’s breeders (in Italy goat’s milk price is even 20% higher during the out of season period) and allows to meet the goat’s milk industry demand. Higher economic results for the breeders means also the opportunity to maintain this activity in disadvantaged environments (mountain, arid zone) traditionally utilized with goats breeding.

Other very important indirect impact of the project was the production of training supports (guide and DVD) that will be utilized to disseminate the results of the project. As known new AI protocols results are not always satisfying if compared to classic HT protocol, but the knowledge about male and female seasonal reproduction and behavior (photoperiodic treatments and male effect) is the basis for a reliable goat’s reproduction management. Project results give also the awareness that it is very important the parallel development of a robust service for breeders, capable of transferring knowledge about reproduction and implement the new protocols in the farms.

PORTUGAL

Regarding Regulatory requirements, which are restricting the use of exogenous hormones, FLOCK-REPROD protocols are a major contribution. Also HF protocol is a very important tool for organic exploitations.

From the technical point of view in Portugal, it seems difficult to implement both photoperiodic and male effect treatments, and therefore apply any FLOCK-REPROD protocol. Most farms do not have the conditions needed, for example, electric energy supply for the light treatments, different barns to keep males and females separate, a number of males necessary to respect the 1:10 ratio and to do the daily rotation as required in male effect treatment for AI purposes. Also, farmers are very reluctant on introducing new methods, or changing any routines. Fertility rates obtained using the new protocols were very variable, and lower than HT, especially during the non-breeding season. So, farmers must be alert to that fact, and that protocols must be implemented without any modification to what is defined. Particularly, when using HF protocol breeders must be aware that only 50% of all goats used will be artificially inseminated.

From the environmental point of view these protocols will contribute to lesser residues in soil, water, and also on food.

Using FLOCK-REPROD protocols animal products are available all year round. However, according to the cost-benefits analysis, these new protocols increase the working time and the costs of inputs, which compromise the increase in profits that might result from having products available all year long.

ROMANIA

a- Regulatory requirements

The project results contribute to the management of goat’s milk industry in Romania, given that caprine livestock in Romania records a numerical trend upward, primarily due to favorable growth conditions existing in our country and secondly because of the gradual recognition by consumer of goat milk qualities.

Promotion and application of non-hormonal protocols support the new human food behavior that promote the health and food safety, without hormones or various other residues potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic or that may affect human health.

The EU rules (96/22/EC) provide the reduction of the use of hormones to induce estrous and super ovulation and require reproduction orientations towards economic and ecological innovative techniques. However, in Romania this legal requirement has not yet been reinforced and the use of hormones is still possible.

b- Technical requirements

From a technical standpoint, non-hormonal treatments applicable out of the goat breeding season require additional photoperiodic treatment, which needs a longer period of time and may not be applied by all farmers in Romania, due to technical constraints.

c- By the economical point of view, prostaglandin-based AI protocols are the most accessible to breeders in Romania. Moreover, prostaglandins are chemical substances that are not subjected to restrictions on use of hormones.

d- Removal of hormones in intensive breeding management is supporting the environmental protection and consumer health, resulting in increased quality parameters and health status of goat milk.

CROATIA

The use of vaginal devices and hormones is strictly under control of veterinary practitioners and inspection and no misuse is possible. Despite the fact that the farmers are aware of the existence of the standard hormonal synchronization protocol, due to traditionally driven reproductive management in Croatia and price of standard protocol, the A.I. and standard protocol including vaginal devices are used sporadically.

The FLOCK-REPROD protocols justified many of the positive expectations raised before the start of the project. The use of new protocols, confirmed in farms, can lead the European goat industry toward safe and healthy production of goats’ products. FLOCK-REPROD protocols provided a sustainable and liable response, ready for future imposition of strict European regulation regarding use of hormones in food chain industry.

The goat industry in Croatia is not big and developed as in France, Italy or Spain. The reproductive and health management is performed, in most of the cases, on traditional way. SME’s are usually not supported by strong extension service support, so genetic and technical improvements are slow and based on proper experiences and ideas that haven’t been proved scientifically.

During and thanks to this project, SME’s have adopted the methodology and different possible approaches in non-hormonal goat reproductive management (use of non-hormonal treatments in order to advance the estrous season or to plan, according to market demands, the kidding season in and out of standard periods). The farmers have become conscious / aware of existence of alternative approach (male effect and photoperiodic treatments) as a tool not only for breeding out of season and advancing the breeding season but also for the estrous synchronization of the flock with successful use of A.I. which can provide the genetic improvement of the flock and high price of genetically superior kids, bucks and maiden goats. Besides, the farmers adopted that the A.I. protocols are not related to sanitary risk what also makes the quarantine unneeded.

The A.I. protocols performed in Croatia during the project were done with straws filled with semen of superior bucks imported from France, so the concrete improvement in future milk production was demonstrated on the spot. The farmers were delighted with non-hormonal approach and with possibility to have the professional advices concerning genetics and reproduction, regardless the fact that the new protocols are technically more time consuming concerning the buck manipulation and light treatments. However, there is much space for improvements in technical support and extension service support on national level. This way produced goat farms’ products are more valuable and the farmers can earn more profit on “organic” products’ market.

The application of non-hormonal protocols is much cheaper for the goat farmers, although they are more time consuming.

FRANCE

In France, CAPGENES had great expectations for the European project Flock-Reprod. Those expectations were supported by a strong will of the dairy goat industry and the French goat professionals.

Today the results of the project have allowed a better knowledge in goat reproduction and also a better understanding of the technical limits of the alternative methods of reproduction (male effect, photoperiodic treatment…).

Although few economical differences exist between the protocols in comparison to the hormonal treatment (fixed cost of 35.08 € per female inseminated for the hormonal treatment vs 33.93€, 31.69€ and 43.30€ for the PG2, PG1 and HF protocols, respectively) technical results and particularly the fertility are still heterogeneous and lower for the FLOCK-REPROD protocols than the results of the hormonal treatment classically used in France. CAPGENES remains conscious of the necessity of bringing out the work done in this project, even if there is still a lot of work to achieve. The sturdiness and the repeatability of the FLOCK-REPROD protocols are not yet sufficient and for now they can't be recommended for a routinely use in farms.

To take such layouts, the improvement of the fertility results and the repeatability of the protocols are necessary. Indeed, once the technical performances are the same as for the hormonal treatment the objectives will be achieved even if the protocols remain more expensive.

Research must therefore go on, in order to clarify the unresolved questions. Time and work are still needed to developed alternative protocols as efficient as the hormonal treatment. The constitution of a European scientific group will allow a collective thought on the protocol improvement.

CAPGENES and INRA want to continue this research, which remains a priority for the dairy goat industry in France. CAPGENES is willing to continue and is ready to mobilize the human and financial resources needed.

This will to continue is due to the fact that France disposes of a commercial sponge with 45 mg of FGA (progestagen used in the classical hormonal treatment) that does not require a withdrawal delay for the milk marketing. This may however change in the future. The economic loss that might then be caused by the hormonal treatment may not be tolerable for breeders, hence the interest to find alternative protocols.

GREECE

Goat population in Greece is the highest among other European countries. In our country, the goat industry is one of the most important domains of the agriculture and gives job opportunities to the difficult mountainous and other isolated areas. About 5 million goats are spread throughout the whole country and their main production concerns goat milk that is mostly used for the production of dairy products and especially feta cheese.

However, the management of goat reproduction and the exploitation of the milk production were not well organized for many decades. Our collaboration with INRA and Capgenes in FLOCK REPROD and previous projects was able to establish an initial research on this field, which brought novel knowledge and practices, providing a better understanding of the technical limits of the alternative methods of reproduction (male effect, PG…). More specifically, the study of seasonality in 3 main goat breeds in Greece (Damascus, Scopelos, Capra prisca) established the foundations of the control of seasonality in goat reproduction and will help the goat breeders to apply the appropriate reproductive protocol according to the breed, the area, the natural resources and the breeding system of the farm.

During the last 4 years, under the FLOCK REPEOD project, AUTH University in conjunction with OLYMPOS dairy industry worked together in order to find solutions in the direction of eliminating or reducing the use of hormones as a treatment for inducing estrus at the goats.

The purpose of this work was to find novel solutions in the reproduction of the goats in order to adapt our production to the EU regulations (96/22/EC), where milk and dairy products should be produced under restriction or elimination of hormones during the reproduction and especially the induction synchronization of estrus. This is also goes in line with the consumers will to buy products with less exogenous hormones, such as the organic products.

FLOCK REPROD was a project that helped us to spread the use of male effect protocol to a wide range of goat producers. In addition, we were able to introduce other useful protocols of reproduction with limited use of hormones, such as PG1 and PG2, which are very promising in inducing estrus either in or out of season..

As far as it concerns the economical impact, goat breeders are willing to eliminate the cost of their production. The new protocols proposed by FLOCK REPROD are able to eliminate the cost of the production per kilogram of milk, since the use of substances is eliminated and the breeders give less money to buy these materials.

The experimental results were considered very promising so far. Our findings concerning the application of PG2 protocol was found useful in synchronizing estrus with limited use of hormones during in season reproduction. In addition, PG1 protocol applied during the early summer months was able to increase the reproductive period of the goats. An opportunity to apply further experiments in the future will help us to achieve repeatability and also we will be able to find solutions in reducing the cost of the experiments and in optimizing the protocols.

OLYMPOS and AUTH Laboratory of Physiology of Reproduction of Domestic Animals is willing to provide experienced personnel and scientific staff in order to continue the experimental procedure and to provide novel knowledge at the field of the management of goat’s reproduction.

We strongly believe that further collaboration with INRA and Capgenes will provide to our country the necessary technical and financial support to increase the quantity and the quality of the goat milk and its products, to achieve equal production of goat milk on a year-round bases and also to supply the markets with goat milk free of hormones.

SPAIN

Through this project, SME´s and technical organizations of goat breeders have become aware of EU support through projects funding, to eliminate or minimize the use of hormonal treatments in the control of reproduction in goats. New alternative methods based on the use of male effect allow out of season reproduction and estrus synchronization to develop artificial insemination programs.

Hormone-free protocols have a great importance on food safety and human health which is an ongoing priority in EU food quality, also have important and general impacts on ecology and environment, improving the consumer’s image of goat milk products.

Seasonality of milk products market is one of the greatest weaknesses of this sector as this correspond directly an inverse price curve that affects the farming economic returns. Reproduction all year long, allows a sustainable goat milk market being an answer to the industry demand of out of season goat’s milk.

The development of artificial insemination is a key tool achieving genetic progress in dairy goat’s farms. The possibilities using hormone free protocols will provide new opportunities to enhance the percentage of inseminated females from selected Spanish breeds.

The project has involved the opportunity to allow organic farming to be engaged in genetic improvements programs through the use of AI, since until now had failed, due to the restricted use of hormones.

It is important that new research projects go on, improving these alternative protocols to achieve the same efficiency as the classical hormonal treatments, particularly reducing low repeatability, due to the great variability of genotypes and reproductive performance within the European context.

(3) MAIN DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES

The project website, http://www.flock-reprod.eu/ was developed at the beginning of the project and still remains the main information tool for the general public. The website provides informations about the project’s objectives, partners and governance. One webpage is dedicated to the description of the several goat breeds involved in the project and another one informs consumers about goat milk products. Details about the potential impact of FLOCK-REPROD results from legislative, environmental and economic point of views are also provided.

The “actualities” page has been regularly updated all along the project and the visitors had the possibility to subscribe to the FLOCK-REPROD’s newsletter. A section named “More about partners” was created in order to present the SMEs partners in detail, in the form of a “breaking news” (description of their activities, announcements of local events, links with FLOCK-REPROD, etc...). In this section Capgenes (France), Caprirom (Romania), Ancras (Portugal), Kpra (Spain), Acrimur (Spain) and Olympos (Greece) successively published one article.

The partners of the project organized and/or participated in a total of 142 events (conferences, workshops, technical courses, interviews, press articles etc…) intended to RTD community, breeding and industry professionals and general public to communicate on the project objectives, work progress and main results. Moreover, 3 newsletters were published on the website and also disseminated to the members of the stakeholder-platform. Moreover, the FLOCK-REPROD stakeholder platform welcomed some new members throughout the project and counts at the moment a total of 36 members, representing the biggest dairy European industries.

FLOCK-REPROD results have also been published in 18 scientific papers so far, including 2 peer reviewed articles, 11 publications in Proceeding of conferences/workshops, 2 thesis/dissertations published by the University of Thessaloniki (Greece), and 3 University publications.

As FLOCK-REPROD dissemination activities were mainly addressed to the industry and the general public, a significant number of scientific results are not published yet. The planned scientific publications for the next years are detailed in the attachment “Flock-Final Report_Part 4.2 A1_List of planned scientific publications”.

(4) EXPLOITATION OF RESULTS

(a) FLOCK-REPROD trademark

The FLOCK-REPROD trademark concerning the new protocols developed during the project was registered within the EU on January 2013 (N° 010972751). The registration will be valid during 10 years (until June, 17th 2022). After this date, it can be used during 6 supplementary months and then be renewed or not. As EU considers only simple trademarks of certification, the project’s coordinator, CAPGENES, is the owner of the trademark and users licenses have been granted to the SMEs and SME Associations (and indirectly to Research Institutes), partners of the project, via a “License agreement” signed by all of them (with the exception of KPRA). The Research Institutes are mentioned in the “license agreement” (but are not signatories) and have the same rights as the SMEs.

The use of the trademark implies the adhesion to the FLOCK-REPROD protocols and the respect of recommendations and, conversely, the use of the FLOCK-REPROD protocols will oblige the user to become a licensee of the FLOCK-REPROD trademark.

The brand shall be used by each SME / SME Association during technicians’ training sessions for the purpose of dissemination of the protocols developed during the project. Any piece of information disseminated to farmers should mention the brand “FLOCK-REPROD” (obligation to specify both the brand and the license number on all documents). Each SME / SME Association will be responsible for the dissemination of these protocols exclusively under the brand FLOCK-REPROD (some may delegate the dissemination of the protocols to other economic operators/partners). Each SME / SME Association also will ensure that all publications from their Research partner within their communication plan mention that the results and protocols are protected by a registered trademark.

May an irregularity be noticed, the SME / SME Associations shall report it to Capgènes, which holds the license in its own name, so Capgenes can intervene to ensure that the rules for dissemination and publication are observed.

The rules stated above are the same for Capgènes, however in the present state, the diffusion of the FLOCK-REPROD protocols by Capgenes will be limited to the framework of technicians’ training. All documents will be distributed under the brand FLOCK-REPROD. The use of these protocols will not result in royalties.

(b) European Technical Group

Finally, in the course of four year long project, the members of the consortium have developed the idea about future coordination tool under the name of “European Technical Group”. The consortium members have become conscious of the need to establish such technical group which would be comprised of academics, researchers and representatives of goat industry enterprises, as a tool for continuation of established collaboration in the years to come but also as a European core group consisted of a proven actors within goat research and industry.

The main objectives of the European technical group have been discussed:

- The most important objective of the European technical group is to maintain the existence of yet established collaboration and confidence created within the project consortium.

- Besides, the main idea of such a group is to sustain the exchange of the experiences about development of FLOCK-REPROD protocols, related issues (male effect, photoperiodic treatments…) and goat reproduction experiences in general.

- Another mission of the group is to follow up the future European issues in the field of goat reproduction and to eventually set-up a new research program according to new challenges.

- The group should also look for the new financial sources in order to develop future scientific and professional research projects.

- Special attention is to be devoted toward future in field implementation of the FLOCK-REPROD protocols and the exchange of best practices on the European level.

- Another important aim of the group is to become available to the farmers, technicians and every other member of goat industry interested for professional advice about non hormonal FLOCK-REPROD protocols, reproduction, health or genetic management advices in general. Such a service should be realized through open blog, forum and similar electronic systems as well as through continue of FLOCK-REPROD web page.

This group will be a way to ensure that the efforts and network invested to carry out the FLOCK-REPROD project will not stop after its completion and will provide a solid basis for further developments in the dairy goat industry. Four representative from INRA (France), VEF (Croatia) and INIAV (Portugal) have been chosen to lead the group.

List of Websites:

Address of project public website:

http://www.flock-reprod.eu/

Contact details:

See attachment “Flock-Final Report_Part 4 1_Beneficiaries contacts_CONSO 19-12-2013”