The Alpine LIFEstockProtect Competence Center Network is one of the key elements of the project. As we have described before in detail in this article, it is network made of farms that will host the livestock protection trainings, while in the meanwhile the owners of the farm will most likely become experts themselves. It is a network to exchange experiences, learn new skills and above all a space to support livestock owners, no matter if the animals are kept as a hobby, part-time or for full income. In order to confirm the eligibility of the interested farm for the network, field visits were necessary. So that is what the project team did for the last couple of weeks!
Please also read: How Are Livestock Guarding Dogs Protecting Livestock?
Competence centres as diverse as the project region
From the hills of the Rhön in northern Bavaria to the alpine mountain pastures in South Tyrol and everything in between, the competence centre network’s diversity in landscapes is out of question. In the planning process of the network, this, and the diversity of livestock species, were especially important. Because only a diverse network can offer many different situations and livestock protection challenges that will increase the variety of potential courses to be held, and, thus, the coverage of the needs of as many livestock owners as possible. In total more than 30 potential competence centres have showed interest, among them the three agricultural schools Salern in South Tyrol, Raumberg-Gumpenstein in Austria and the LfL-Standort Grub in Bavaria. So far, the project team visited 25 farms, whereas overall, the competence centres are distributed evenly within the project region. They are located in South Tyrol, in six out of nine federal states of Austria and in southern, central and northern Bavaria, ensuring that in the future all interested people have access to a training course. Eventually, additional interested farms will still have the opportunity to join in the course of the project duration.
During the field visits countless different operational structures, livestock protection concerns and solutions were encountered. Whereas some farmers already implemented livestock protection measures through fixed or mobile fences, or livestock guarding dogs, others have not yet started with the implementation. Nevertheless, all of the potential competence centres showed great interest in the project and were eager to collaborate further. Over homemade cheese, sausages or cake, it was then discussed what the next steps will be. Before this will be elaborated here, let’s have a look at some of the picture taken during the field visits as these always say more than a 1000 words:
What will be the next steps?
Now that the project team is aware of the local conditions and possibilities of each potential competence centre, the collaboration will be signed officially. After that, internal training courses will be organised through there period of summer and autumn to establish the same level of knowledge among all members of the network. To finalise this, a in person meeting, when the situation allows it, will be held in November 2021 in order for all Alpine LIFEstockProtect Competence Center Network members to meet, exchange experiences and prepare for the official start of the livestock protection trainings in spring 2022.