Sustainable pasture and livestock management

Published: 18 February 2019
Last edited: 20 March 2019

The main income source of farmers is livestock. Every year, when the number of small ruminants has increased, sheep are sold at the market place or used for consumption purposes, to maintain the carrying capacity of natural pastures. The sale of sheep is mainly done in summer. For personal use, animals are slaughtered in the fall, and canned as stocks for consumption until next fall. At present, there are 4 herds of small ruminants in the village, with a total of 5,000 heads, and 700 heads of cattle.

In addition to meat products, farmer families generate small income from producing local cheese (cow and goat). Recently, the demand for goat cheese has increased by people from the regional city centers traveling to the village. 

Recently, animal owners reduced by 30% (from 7,500 to 5,000) the number of small ruminants in their herds. The number of animals is controlled by bayars (elected farmers who have extensive experience in livestock keeping). Bayars check the number of animals every two months and warn the animal owners to reduce the number of livestock if the herd exceeds 1,000 heads. At the end of each season, farmers sell their animals to reduce the herds to 800 heads. Farmers also began to improve the breed of cattle, hardy to the harsh cold of the highlands.

Classifications

Category
Sustainable livelihoods
Scale of implementation
Local
Phase of solution
Implementation

Enabling factors

In livestock farming societies the number of livestock is not just an economic issue but also one of social status. High number of livestock means high social status. Konegummez farmers overcame this social trap, which leads to degradation of natural resources. Local farmers have developed a mechanism (the so-called bayar) which enables by mutual agreement to maintain a livestock number that responds to the carrying capacity of pastures. The better quality of tsheep leads to less susceptibility to diseases and better market prices.

Lessons learned

Changing animal husbandry patterns is a big challenge in livestock farming societies. It calls for widespread social agreements within the society, backstopped by the community’s leaders and will only work, if:

  • farmers have a clear, tangible benefit by reducing livestock number;
  • there are clear, mutually agreed mechanisms in place to control livestock number.