Sustainable Small Ruminants Farming Decision Support System

Project information

Sustainable Small Ruminants Farming Decision Support System

Call: Services and Applications for Smart Agriculture

Id: 14906

Acronym: HappyGoat

1 March, 2015 to 31 October, 2016

No Partner Contact Country Total
1 Coord.Integrated Information Technology & Digital CommunicationYannis SkourtisGreece101.082.0SmartAgriFood
2Institute for Social Ecology
Alpen Adria Universität
Marina Fischer-KowalskiAustria6.50.0None
3ZALF-Zentrum für Agrarlanschaftsforschung e.V.Nina FuchsGermany60.060.0Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture


The Sustainable Small Ruminants Farming Decision Support System SSRF-DSS will provide a web-based, model-driven decision support tool for farmers using small ruminants (sheep and goats) in extensive farming methods. The model that is the basic inference engine of the app helps farmers optimize their annual income, taking into account labour hours, among other variables.
EU farmers have gradually acquired more animals over time so as to be eligible for higher/more subsidies. This has led to big and difficult-to-manage flock sizes, additional fodder costs and pasture degradation. With rising fodder prices in the international market, farmers could afford less fodder but flock sizes were not reduced, inevitably leading to overgrazing and pasture degradation. Consequentially, the quality of pastures has been deteriorating while the animals are malnourished and less productive. Our calculations show that a reduction of stocking rate (number of animals), at constant level of subsidies and expenditure on imported fodder, would lead to higher incomes (an average 35%).
SSRF-DSS is an integrated platform where stakeholders (farmers or other bodies) will
- Use the model, through a user-friendly web interface, for an EU area with tested factors, to plan their annual income in an optimal and environmentally friendly way.
- Input data for different EU areas where key factors vary (such as subsidies, land rent costs, fodder costs etc).
- Help interconnect the app with other FIWARE-enabled apps or Open Data sources within the EU (eg. subsidy or price data) that can facilitate accurate, real-time decision support.


The European sheep and goat sector faces great challenges, with incomes being among the lowest in the agricultural industry and production costs continuously increasing. At the same time, farmers do not follow an established methodology regarding the management of their enterprises. Taking these issues into consideration, our team designed and developed HappyGoats. HappyGoats is a model-driven decision support web app for sustainable small ruminant farming. With HappyGoats farmers create future ‘what-if’ scenarios, which take into account all important farm aspects such as flock size, production, feeding, grazing, labour, costs and income. In return, the model estimates critical information such as energy and protein balance calculations, predicted milk production and profitability. All of these are illustrated with simple, easy-tounderstand charts and projections, which help farmers to visualise the impact of their choices and make annual management planning decisions. Moreover, HappyGoats offers simple human-readable advice towards optimal milk and meat production and higher profitability, while also eliminating dependence on public subsidies. The app also provides a daily feed calculator, which can help farmers to optimise animal feeding and minimise relevant costs. Finally, HappyGoats can benefit consultants who support sheep and goat farmers by diversifying and deepening their services.

  • The model (inference engine) assess current farm status and estimates next year’s herd size, income, costs, environmental impact and other parameters based on required and optional (default values provided) information about the farm.
  • The model has two types of input parameters: a) Required data: parameters about the farm livestock and production and b) Optional parameters for which the farmer may either keep the default values or alter them if they know what they’re doing. Default values have been selected by our research team based on the findings on more than 120 goat farms which have participated in the EU-funded SOLID (Sustainable and Organic Low Input Dairying www.solidairy. eu) project.
  • Using these input parameters the app estimates output parameters. From these estimates of milk meat and pasture available the costs income and profit are estimated. The app also calculates the amount of time farmers need to work and the environmental impact based on how much pasture is left at the end of the year.
  • Decision support

Share your opinion: Add new comment