Local breeds and pastoral farming on the North Mediterranean shore: a univocal coevolution? An example of dairy sheep farming systems in Corsica (France) and Thessaly (Greece)

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Lola Perucho
Ioannis Hadjigeorgiou
Anne Lauvie
Charles-Henri Moulin
Jean-Christophe Paoli
Christina Ligda


Using local resources for ruminant feeding is a way to achieve agroecological production in pastoral farming systems. In North Mediterranean countries, sheep farming systems have evolved towards more intensive systems in lowland and hilly areas, whereas remote and rough pastureland is abandoned and local breeds are rarely maintained; rather, they are progressively replaced by highly productive breeds and their crosses. Using the examples of Corsica (France) and Thessaly (Greece), two dairy sheep farming territories developing intensive farming systems that differ in the livestock breeds they use, we explored the hypothesis that the use of local breeds may not be systematically related to the maintenance of pastoral practices in Mediterranean dairy sheep farming systems. For this purpose, three data sets based on interviews with sheep farmers of local breeds and crossbred flocks were analysed in two study areas. The results demonstrated that local breeds’ adaptive abilities can be used in crossbred flocks or purebred flocks to maintain a feeding system based on pastoral components. However, other drivers also appear to lead into the declining use of local pastoral resources. Apart from the use of local breeds, year-to-year adjustments of replacement and culling rates sometimes have to be applied in order to address the inter-annual variations of the fodder on offer. This paper provides an original approach to studying the link between local breeds and the pastoral components of farming systems by combining synchronic and diachronic analyses of the practices in crossbred and purebred flocks composed of local breeds.

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Perucho, L., Hadjigeorgiou, I., Lauvie, A., Moulin, C.-H., Paoli, J.-C. and Ligda, C. (2021) “Local breeds and pastoral farming on the North Mediterranean shore: a univocal coevolution? An example of dairy sheep farming systems in Corsica (France) and Thessaly (Greece)”, Genetic Resources, 2(4), pp. 7-20. doi: 10.46265/genresj.WUDA2135.
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Author Biographies


INRAE - SELMET-LRDE, Quartier Grossetti, Corte, 20250, France

Ioannis Hadjigeorgiou, Agricultural University of Athens

Department of Nutritional Physiology and Feeding, Faculty of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Athens, 75 Iera Odos, Athens, 11855, Greece

Anne Lauvie, INRAE-CIRAD - MontpellierSupAgro - Univ. Montpellier

UMR Syst`emes d’´elevage M´editerran´eens et Tropicaux (SELMET), INRAE -CIRAD - MontpellierSupAgro -Univ.
Montpellier, 2 place Pierre Viala, Montpellier cedex 1, 34060, France

Charles-Henri Moulin, INRAE -CIRAD - MontpellierSupAgro - Univ. Montpellier

UMR Syst`emes d’´elevage M´editerran´eens et Tropicaux (SELMET), INRAE -CIRAD - MontpellierSupAgro - Univ.
Montpellier, 2 place Pierre Viala, Montpellier cedex 1, 34060, France

Jean-Christophe Paoli, INRAE - SELMET-LRDE

INRAE - SELMET-LRDE, Quartier Grossetti, Corte, 20250, France

Christina Ligda, Hellenic Agricultural Organization

Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization, Thessaloniki, 57001, Greece