Knowledge-rich exchange at the Shepherds’ Day in South Tyrol

This post is also available in: German Italian

After a long wait, the Shepherd’s Day took place at the Competence Centre in Salern, South Tyrol, on 11.11.2021. Center of attention were the practice of shepherding as well as a new evaluation of the profession in the context of livestock protection and the return of predators. Addionally, our project LIFEstockProtect was also presented.

One shepherd and two shepherdesses provided an insight of their daily life – telling us about the joys but also the challenges of their work: Especially bad weather and fog, as well as the workload related to building fences are fairly demanding for the shepherds. On heavily used pastures for tourism conflicts occur with hikers and tourists that climb over or pull down fences or get too close to the herd.

Shepherds and much more

Besides the shepherds themselves also other people dealing with the topic of summer pasture- and livestock farming had a chance to speak. Martina, a student at the Salern Technical College spent the summer as a shepherdess and reported on her experiences. A mountain farmer mentioned concerns about the necessity to stable his calves increasingly if predators are sighted. At the same time, he called for more initiative from the farmers themselfs to protect their own animals and to promote the profession of shepherds for the future. Erich, shepherd on one of the most challenging mountains in South Tyrol, provided amazing insights about his work on steep slopes and with dogs. Before the break, Astrid Summerer concluded with her descriptions of transhumance in Friuli.

An action group which is already active in South Tyrol and gives shepherding a voice, is called “AG Weidekultur”. The core task of the action group is to bring together competences from as many different people as possible, such as botanists, veterinarians, shepherds and many more, to start actions to support the shepherds and the reintroduction of guided pasture use and care. A livestock protection advisor from the local provincial administration talked about the current state of livestock protection in South Tyrol. Despite still being at the very beginning of implementing all measures possible, livestock protection can also be a chance to maintain summer pastures in future. Particular emphasis was put on the importance of small ruminants like sheep and goats that maintain summer pastures – the loss of knowledge about proper grazing methods with different types of animals in many places urgently needs to be regained. Protection through preservation and maintenance measures.

Read more about guided grazing in LIFEstockProtect here.

The shepherding course is coming!

Also, the competence center itself reports encouraging news. The formation course for shepherds and shepherdesses will start in February. The course is completed with an exam and a recognized certificate. Here, the profession shepherd is entered in the register of occupational directories for the first time again. An important step in the right direction!

The course compiles multiple thematic focuses – e.g., animal welfare, livestock protection as well as pasture management – and includes 110 hours. If possible, also two excursions will be offered. The modules fence construction, shepherd dogs and livestock guarding dogs are held by experts from LIFEstockProtect. Everyone interested can get in touch and participate at the course. Interested? Registration is still possible until January but places are filling up fast!

Author: Jasmin Clare

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