This summer, as part of the project’s Volunteer Workforce Network, LIFEstockProtect tested the Pasturs project model in Trentino, at Malga Tuena. The main objectives of this action are as follows:
The first is to offer shepherds and farmers who adopt preventive measures concrete help during the mountain pasture season. Managing the fences and livestock guardian dogs in fact implies an additional commitment in terms of time and effort. Volunteers go up to the mountain pastures to help shepherds and farmers with their daily activities related to livestock protection and alpine pasture management.
The second objective of the action is to enable the exchange and meeting of different people who are, however, united by the desire to promote livestock protection measures. In this way, during the time spent together, volunteers and farmers can share opinions, experiences and knowledge. Volunteers discover what life is like on the alpine pastures, what difficulties farmers and shepherds have to face, as well as the satisfaction they derive from this work, and shepherds can be confronted with people from different backgrounds.
Positive volunteering experience
The manager of Malga Tuena was interviewed as part of Action A3.7. Investigation on perceptions on livestock protection in local cultures, and later said he was willing to take on volunteers. Since the action is still in the trial phase, only one volunteer went up to the mountain pasture at the end of August. At Malga Tuena there are about 160 dairy goats, a few sheep, some donkeys and some cattle. Electrified fences and five Maremmano Abruzzese LGDs are used to protect the cattle. Malga Tuena was one of the first in the region to adopt these measures, which have proved effective in an area dense with large carnivores. The farmer has established a relationship of great trust and mutual respect with his dogs, which have so far always proved up to their task.
Shortly before the start of the volunteering period, Eliante staff visited the pasture and the breeder, to establish the final details and get to know the volunteer’s hosting situation. A volunteer spent time on the mountain pasture from 27 August to 4 September, and the experience was definitely positive for all parties involved. The farmer was very pleased to receive the volunteer. He remarked that she made herself available in everything that was needed and that he and his entire team will certainly miss her. The volunteer also gave very positive feedback.
“The day at the alpine pasture starts early, around 6 a.m., with the milking of the goats. The work takes about three hours. During the day, there are many activities: tidying and cleaning the barn, setting up the electrified protective nets and, in the case of Malga Tuena, also managing the dairy, the customers, the rooms and the farmhouse, and then finishing again with milking and a good hot dinner. During the day and night, the shepherd entrusts his animals to guardian dogs, the Maremmano Abruzzese dogs, who watch over the flock, protecting them from danger. Before returning home, I was lucky enough to witness a wonderful surprise, the birth of a baby goat. Ivan and his staff are people with a big heart, they have become a second family to me. Returning to everyday life was difficult. I tried to put my whole self into every activity and received a lot in return. It was a wonderful experience and I recommend it to everyone.”
Given the positive outcome of the experience, more volunteers and alpine pastures will be involved next year, in order to continue to support farmers taking preventive measures in the Alps.