Creation of Sustainable Livestock Production: Step by Step to Innovation

A main text visual illustrating Creation of Sustainable Livestock Production

Within Europe’s agricultural landscape tradition and innovation coexist harmoniously and shape the future of livestock production. Traditional European Livestock Production Systems (ELPS) are passed down through generations of farmers, while Innovative Livestock Production Systems (ILPS) represent a new era of sustainable and technologically driven farming methods. Within this landscape of change, the STEP UP project emerges as a beacon of progress, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation.

Through collaborative efforts and initiatives, the project paves the way for the co-creation and implementation of New Sustainable EU Production Systems. Keep reading our blog to discover more about these topics.

ELPS: Traditional European Livestock Production Systems

European Livestock Production Systems (ELPS) represent the traditional, established methods for raising and managing livestock in Europe. These practices have been developed over generations to suit specific environmental, economic, and cultural contexts. ELPS include a range of production methods tailored to various livestock species and geographical regions, encompassing diverse farming practices such as extensive grazing, mixed crop-livestock systems, and intensive confinement operations. While varying in specifics from region to region, ELPS are vital to European livestock agriculture, embodying the accumulated knowledge and expertise of generations of farmers.

However, recently, conventional methods of livestock production have faced challenges due to several factors. Firstly, there is a growing concern about its environmental impact, including the contribution to climate change, ecosystem eutrophication, and heavy resource usage. Secondly, ethical considerations have become prominent, reflecting growing public interest in animal welfare production practices. Lastly, there are concerns about human health, with increased attention on the potential health risks associated with excessive meat consumption and the link between the well-being of animals and humans.

ILPS: Innovative Livestock Production Systems

Innovative Livestock Production Systems (ILPS) differ from traditional livestock farming methods by introducing innovative strategies characterised by holistic management practices. These systems incorporate cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices aimed at enhancing efficiency, reducing environmental impact, and improving animal welfare. Unlike ELPS, which adhere to established agricultural norms, ILPS challenge conventional paradigms in livestock farming.

By incorporating innovative solutions, ILPS offer alternatives towards more sustainable and resilient production methods. Their emphasis on holistic management encompasses a comprehensive approach to livestock farming, addressing not only production outputs but also environmental stewardship and animal welfare considerations. Through the adoption of advanced technologies and the integration of sustainable practices, ILPS strive to optimise resource utilisation, minimise waste, and enhance overall system resilience. Ultimately, ILPS represent an approach to livestock farming that aims to address contemporary challenges while paving the way for a more sustainable future in agriculture.

When tradition meets innovation: STEP UP project

STEP UP is a Horizon Europe project that aims to bridge the knowledge gaps between ELPS and ILPS by investigating and validating sustainable livestock production models aligned with circularity and transparency. The project is dedicated to co-creating sustainable ELPS through robust evidence-based assessments and methodologies, ensuring the sustainability of diverse ELPS. Furthermore, it aims to gather evidence that supports the creation of policies aimed at promoting sustainable practices in livestock systems.

Additionally, it seeks to improve engagement with stakeholders and disseminate knowledge effectively. Ultimately, STEP UP aims to develop a transdisciplinary approach to safeguarding the future of the livestock value chain. This will be achieved by utilising insights from both ELPS and ILPS to drive positive changes in livestock production practices.

In text illustrating our blog post about ELPS and ILPS

Creation of Sustainable Livestock Production Systems: Co-Creation and Implementation

Now that we understand the necessity for establishing New Sustainable EU Production Systems, let’s explore the journey toward their creation. The following steps have to be undertaken when co-creating ELPS suited for today’s needs:

  • Mapping Data Gaps – an important step in enhancing the reliability of all analyses that are going to follow
  • Establishing Current and Innovative Livestock Production Systems – involves documenting and comprehending emerging practices in livestock management
  • Indicating and Measuring the Impact for Livestock Systems – focuses on quantifying the consequences of these systems
  • Establishing a Holistic Methodology for Quantifying Impacts
  • Optimal modelling scenarios – improves the accuracy of predictive models
  • EU Livestock Systems foresight – predicts future trends and strategies for sustainable livestock systems in Europe

BleuBlancCoeur: An Example of Innovative Livestock Production Systems

An example of ILPS, BleuBlancCoeur, aims to improve the health benefits of animal products like meat, milk, and eggs by giving animals a special diet rich in certain nutrients. BleuBlancCoeur in France is managed by IDELE, and it targets a diverse range of livestock species, including pigs, poultry, dairy, and beef cattle. Its innovative aspect lies in the development of feeding systems that not only enhance animal nutrition but also align with an efficient marketing strategy aimed at consumers.

The scale of implementation involves collaboration between the company and various members of the association, including farmers, cooperatives, feed companies, milk and meat plants, and retailers. BleuBlancCoeur is a good example of the integration of innovative practices across the livestock production chain to deliver enhanced nutritional value to consumers while ensuring the sustainability of livestock farming practices.


The journey towards establishing New Sustainable EU Production Systems is an initiative that requires collaboration, and commitment. As we navigate the challenges of traditional European Livestock Production Systems (ELPS) and embrace the opportunities presented by Innovative Livestock Production Systems (ILPS), projects like STEP UP help with moving towards a more sustainable future in agriculture. By bridging the gap between tradition and innovation, we can co-create holistic and resilient livestock production models that prioritise the environment, animal welfare, and human health.

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