Livestock breeds In Spain

Articles in ‘Livestock breeds In Spain’

Electric fences against wolf attacks

February 29th, 2008

Electric fences stop 97% of attacks by wolves on livestock according to this article from EFE. In an experiment in 30 sheep farms in Spain, only three attacks occurred with the death of just one sheep during a year. Mastiffs are effective, though less so, with a 69% reduction in livestock injuries and deaths. The results were presented at the meeting Conviviendo con el lobo: Prevención de daños en Europa Meridional held in Segovia this February.

Dead livestock to be left in Picos

January 27th, 2008

Good news. Dead livestock is to be left uncollected in the Picos de Europa for the first time since 2001 when the EU banned the practice due to Mad Cows’ disease. At present some 20,000 dead animals are removed every year from the Spanish countryside which otherwise would have formed part of the food chain. (Fapas)

I am at present unsure as to whether the dead livestock is to be collected in special areas only for carrion birds, or whether, mammals such as brown bears will also be able to benefit. Attacks by bears on fruit trees and beehives have increased dramatically since the ban as carrion forms an essential part of their diet.

Below a bear in Somiedo tucks into a mule (?), exempt from the Mad Cow rule. (Fapas)

See also archive on BSE and wildlife in Spain

Sheep and goats in the Picos de Europa

November 25th, 2007

Lisa has some great photos over at the forum of a sheep and goat show in Potes, Picos de Europa, organised by Fundation for the Conservation of the Lammergeyer. She notes “The FCQ hopes to re-introduce three Lammergeyer into the Picos next spring. SEO Asturias have their misgivings over the release, however, due to the still prevalent practice of poisoned bait being put down for other species. The more interaction and dialogue between everyone the better I think, if this practice is to be stamped out.” Below Picos goat breed. Read and see photos on the forum

EU to accept wolf hunting

November 4th, 2007

The EU is to accept the new wolf management plan of Castilla-Leon when it is approved in January 2007 which will allow wolves to hunted south of the River Duero to protect livestock, breaking a 20-year protection of the species in this area.

Two wolves killed illegally in Valladolid in 2006. (El Pais) The police seem to have enjoyed their display.

 According to wolf expert Juan Carlos Blanco, wolves expanded significantly in the 1990s but this expansion, reaching the border of the region of Madrid, has halted. In the last decade the density of wolves in the area of distribution has probably increased. “This is a typical behaviour: first a big territorial expansion and then a brake to this”.

Some 200 wolves are hunted legally every year in Spain, and many more illegally, not just in Castilla-Leon but also in Asturias where 25 wolves were killed between January 2006 and March 2007, by officials after reports of sheep deaths. In contrast, in the Sierra de la Culebra, rich hunters pay up to 18,000 euros to kill a wolf.

Ecologistas en Acción is against the removal of protection. “…there is no justification.  Five years ago the Spanish parliament voted to include the wolf in the National Catalogue of threatened species and not only has this not been done, but they now want to extend its hunting. Legal hunting does not replace poaching and the use of poison, it complements it”.

Wolf attacks on livestock have increased but this may not be only be due to its breeding success. The absence of carrion after the EU mad-cow ban on leaving dead livestock in the countryside has had a huge affect on wildlife on Spain and has in all surety driven wolves to attack sheep more frequently. The Junta de Castilla y Leon claim the region’s 1500 wolves kill 2,200 sheep and 220 cows a year. They claim the plan guarantees the conservation of the wolf and reduces its negative effects. The actual contents of the plan are still unclear, but sources talk of some 50 wolves a year.

El Pais

Shepherds protest in Madrid

September 10th, 2007

The annual protest calling for the protection of the Cañadas Reales, the traditional grazing routes, brought 1,000 sheep to the Spanish capital on Sunday. Some of Madrid’s streets are still part of the cañada system, including La Castellana, and these sheep drives across the modern city is a reminder of the old practice. The cañadas are, in theory at least, legally protected from occupation and barring, but many of these routes have been devoured by property speculation.
This year, alongside farmers from across Spain shepherds from 40 countries took part, including Mongolia, India, Kenya and Mali. They have come to Spain to take part in the The World Gathering of Nomads and Transhumant Herders, which is meeting in Segovia this September, 8th – 16th

madrid sheep

The Guardian noted “The environment ministry has warned that one-third of Spain risks being turned into desert because of over-grazing, modern farming techniques and property development….They came with a universal message – that their land and livelihoods are in the hands of governments and developers intent on modernisation at any cost. The farmers argue that as populations become more sedentary and pastoral farming dies out, so does the land, causing desertification and dwindling food supplies”.

Basque shepherds claim Idiazabal cheese under threat from wolves

August 30th, 2007

Shepherds in Alava, in the Basque Country have with remarkable hyperbole claimed that Idiazabal cheese, will disappear if a check is not put on wolves. Idiazabal is made with the Basque breed of latxa (lacha) sheep. Shepherds claim that the recent expansion of wolves in Alava is threatening their survival. (El Correo Digital)

lacha sheep A lacha sheep

Smoked with oak and beach, Idiazabal is one of my favourite Spanish cheeses, though I have many favourite Spanish cheeses. Read the rest of this entry

Transhumance in Spain

July 23rd, 2007

I’ve put together these two articles on transhumance in Spain:

  • Las Cañadas Reales (The network of drovers’ roads covering 125,000 km)
  • La Mesta (The medieval association of sheep holders which helped form the network of paths)
  • La Venta del Lobo. Impossibly bleak and ruined resthouse along the Cañada Real through the Sierra de la Culebra. A cherry tree is often the sign of old human habitation.

    Retuerta horses are oldest breed in Europe

    June 9th, 2007

    The oldest horse breed in Europe is shown to be the Retuerta, only distantly related to other breeds. Only 60 retuerta horses survive in Doñana marshes. A 4-year genetic study has shown they form the base of the genetic tree for European horses. They are also the only autochthonous breed of horse which lives in the wild in Europe isolated from other countries. el mundo