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Research National Programs National Meat and Wool Production Research Program
National Meat and Wool Production Research Program






Meat and wool production has a long tradition in Uruguay. Both sectors, represent the economic basis of the Uruguayan Agricultural Industry. Almost 60% of the total country's grazing land is exclusively dedicated to livestock -beef and sheep production- raising to 82%, when dairy and crop-livestock systems are also considered.

The country has more than 38.000 farms merely dedicated to livestock production and 7.370 to mixed crop-livestock activities. Most of the farms specialized in beef and wool production (78%) are family farms with areas smaller than 500 hectares, which shows the social and economical importance of this sector. Beef numbers reach 12 million heads, being Uruguay the country with the largest quantity of beef heads per citizen in the World. Beef production has grown 67% in the last 15 years -the period with the highest growth in the history of the country- placing Uruguayan livestock production as one of the most competitive of the world. Uruguayan exports of beef meat rank 7th in the World.

Beef slaughtering is firmly growing, reaching 2.4 million heads per year (46 thousand heads per week in average). More than 70% of beef production goes to overseas.

Currently, it represents 6% of the GNP (Gross National Product) and together with wool, skins and sheep meat, it makes more than 25% of the total national exports. At present, sheep numbers reach to 10.8 million heads, distributed among 24.000 farmers. Sheep meat production, measured through slaughtering, reaches to 122.000 tons. Uruguay is the third world-wide exporter. Wool production reaches to 39.800 tons raw. Worldwide beef and lamb meat production and consumption/commerce, would show a growing trend in the future. This represents an opportunity for increasing our national production and exportation. Differentiation and value-adding processes are expected to grow in Uruguayan Meat Chain, with a wider product offer and a tendency to export more processed meat. Regarding to wool, the challenge consists in producing more fine and superfine fibers, according to the changes in consumer habits in the world markets and also to increase productivity and quality of medium micron wool.




Improve competitiveness and economic results of meat and wool farmers of Uruguay in a way that reflects a better life quality where identification, adaptation, formulation, development and technology transfer of different technological options allow the increase of quantity, quality and efficiency of production processes and products, taking into account the requirements of the different value chain  agents as well as the internal and consumer demands. This proposal has to consider agriculture sustainability and environmental responsibility.




1/ Improve competitiveness of the national herd in relation to regional and international levels, through the use of genetic improvement and biotechnology applied to animal production, as differentiation and value-adding tools for meat and textile products and processes.

2/ Increase productivity, technical efficiency and product quality in the processes of sheep and beef reproduction, in order to meet the increasing demand for differentiated meat and textile products required by international markets. This is to be done in a context of improved economic efficiency and considering aspects related to animal welfare, animal health, ethics, and natural production.

3/ Increase the volume, efficiency and consistency of the production of differentiated and value-added meat products to satisfy an increasing demand from markets with different requirements, considering aspects related to animal welfare, food safety, palatability and nutritional value of the product and its influence on human health, responding to preferences of national and international consumers.

4/ Improve competitiveness of meat and wool productive systems located in marginal areas by increasing the production and quality of fine, superfine and ultra fine wools, also considering aspects of sustainability and biodiversity of forage natural resources and demands from processors and end consumers.

5/ Diversify and complement meat and wool animal production systems with forestry production through the efficient use of the available areas for livestock production in the traditional forest model and designing an alternative agroforestry  model which considers integrated production in systems mainly dedicated to livestock production.

6/ Prospect technological demands for wool and meat production, and evaluate, model and simulate productive, economic and social impacts of the innovations proposed by the Meat and Wool Program, considering the requirements and positions of the different agents in the value chains, State policies, and the need of designing marketing strategies related to consumers preferences focused on the different segments/niches of the target markets.




Contact: meatandwool@inia.org.uy