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Sheep are grazers and goats are intermediate feeders. By employing O2 consumption and heart rate measurements, resting metabolic rate (RMR) and field metabolic rate (FMR) were determined in four male fat-tailed Awassi sheep (44.0 ± 3.94) and four male Baladi goats (35.5 ± 5.42 kg) that were co-grazing natural pasture in the Negev Desert. There were 67.7 ± 3.75 g DM/m2 of herbaceous vegetation biomass, which was rapidly becoming senescent and more fibrous. We hypothesized that FMR of these desert-adapted ruminants would be relatively low when compared to other sheep and goat breeds, as animals in arid areas tend to have low metabolic rates. Both sheep (n = 6) and goats (n = 6) foraged 71% of the allotted 11 h free-pasture period; however, sheep grazed more than goats (P < 0.001); whereas goats browsed more than sheep (P < 0.001). RMR was higher (P = 0.007) in sheep than in goats (529 ± 23.5 v. 474 ± 25.4 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d), but FMR did not differ between species (618 ± 55.7 v. 613 ± 115.2 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d). In addition, the cost of activities, as a proportion of FMR, did not differ between sheep and goats; FMR increased by 89 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d or 17% in sheep and by 138 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d or 29% in goats. In comparing FMRs of sheep and goats in this study with these species in other studies, differences were inconsistent and, therefore, our hypothesis was not supported.
The objectives of this work were (a) to determine the presence of streptococci in samples from small ruminant dairy farms (bulk-tank milk and, where possible, teatcup swabs), (b) to investigate the potential adverse effects of streptococci on milk quality and (c) to investigate the importance of some husbandry factors for the isolation of streptococci. Bulk-tank milk samples and teatcups swab samples were examined bacteriologically for the presence of streptococci. Somatic cell counting and milk composition measurements were also performed. The husbandry factors present in each farm were assessed for potential associations with the isolation of streptococci. Streptococci were isolated from milk samples from 31.4% of sheep and 17.4% of goat farms and from 4.8% of sheep and 5.9% of goat teatcups. Streptococci were isolated more frequently from the upper part than the lower part of teatcups: 5.0% vs. 1.9%. Most isolates (57.9%) were identified as Streptococcus uberis. Most isolates (68.4%) were slime-producing; slime-production was more frequent among isolates from teatcups (83.3%) than from bulk-tank milk (55.0%). Somatic cell counts and milk composition did not differ between farms in which streptococci were or were not isolated. Machine-milking was associated with the isolation of streptococci from bulk-tank milk samples. The initial stage of the milking period (first two months) was found to be associated with the isolation of streptococci from milking machine teatcups in sheep farms only.
Medicinal plants have been the focus of several studies due to their nematicide properties which can be used to control nematodes in sheep. No study has examined the morphological effects of Cymbopogon citratus on nematodes. Thus, this study evaluated the chemical composition, nematicidal activity and effects of C. citratus extracts on the morphology of eggs and infective larvae (L3) of sheep. Aqueous and methanolic extracts and fractions of C. citratus were obtained and analysed in vitro. The C. citratus extracts were effective against Haemonchus spp. and Trichostrongylus spp. larvae and eggs. Ten fractions were obtained from C. citratus, six of which had high ovicidal activity at 1000 μg mL−1, and two fractions had high activity at all tested concentrations. The phytochemical analysis identified the presence of compounds such as terpenoids, various ketones, esters, and fatty acids. The ultrastructural analysis showed deformations of the cuticle and wilting along the body of the nematodes at all concentrations. The muscular layer, intestinal cells and the mitochondria profile showed damage compared to the typical pattern. Ultra-thin sections of eggs treated with methanolic fractions of C. citratus presented modifications. This study showed the biological activity and effects of C. citratus on the gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep.
The present study aims to identify margins for the improvement of dairy animal welfare and production based on the quality of the human−animal relationship (HAR). The main tool proposed to improve the quality of HAR in dairy animals is training of stock-people by targeting their attitude and behaviour. Given that a good quality HAR may benefit the welfare of dairy animals and productivity, new technologies, by monitoring the handling routine on farm, may be more effective in promoting good practices. In particular, the implementation of new technologies may allow identification of specific inappropriate behaviours to be targeted at stockperson level, thus increasing the efficacy of training. However, an issue related to the introduction of new technologies in the farms, particularly in those that follow traditional farming practices, is the resistance to innovation which may be encountered.
Correct diagnosis of cause of death is necessary to suggest the most effective management interventions to reduce perinatal lamb mortality. Haemorrhage on the surface of the brain has been used as a field diagnostic tool to allocate lambs to a cause of death category, but the usefulness of this method was unclear. This study aimed to evaluate whether gross pathology was related to neuronal death and whether haemorrhage of the central nervous system (CNS) was distinct between differing causes of death, enabling indicators to be used in field diagnoses. Lambs dying from natural causes (n = 64) and from euthanasia (n = 7) underwent postmortem examination, then the brain and spinal cord were extracted and examined histologically. Histological changes consistent with neuronal death were not detected in any lamb. Haemorrhage of the meninges and/or parenchyma of the CNS occurred in all lambs. The age of the haemorrhage indicated that it occurred near the time of death in most lambs. Dilation of blood vessels varied in severity but appeared to be unrelated to causal diagnosis, severity of subcutaneous oedema, breathing or milk status. Moderate or severe dilation of blood vessels and haemorrhage of the CNS did not occur in all lambs with alternative clear indicators of dystocia and occurred in all death classifications, so it could not be used as diagnostic indicators for classification of cause of death. Dilation and haemorrhage were unrelated to neuronal damage and may have been artefactual. In conclusion, haemorrhage of the CNS was not indicative of neuronal damage and could not be used to distinguish between lambs with clear indicators of differing causes of death, so it is not recommended as a field diagnostic tool.
The continuous presence of active male small ruminants prevents seasonal anestrus in females, but evidence of the same mechanism operating from the females to the males is scarce. This study assessed the effects of the continuous presence of ewes in estrus in spring on ram sexual activity, testicular size and echogenicity, and LH and testosterone concentrations. On 1 March, 20 rams were assigned to two groups (n = 10 each): isolated (ISO) from other sheep, or stimulated (STI) by 12 ewes, which were separated from the rams by an openwork metal barrier, allowing contact between sexes. Each week, four ewes were induced into estrus by intravaginal sponges. Live weight, scrotal circumference, testicular width (TW) and length (TL) were recorded at the beginning and at the end of the experiment, and testicular volume (TV) was calculated; at the same time, testicular ultrasonography and color Doppler scanning were performed. Blood samples (March to May) were collected once per week for testosterone determinations, and at the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected for 6 h at 20-min intervals for LH analysis. Rams were exposed to four estrous ewes in a serving-capacity test. Scrotal circumference, TW and TL were higher in the STI than in the ISO rams (P < 0.05) in May, and TV was higher (P < 0.05) in the STI (391 ± 17 cm3) than in the ISO rams (354 ± 24 cm3). In ISO rams, the number of white pixels was higher (P < 0.01) in May (348 ± 74) than in March (94 ± 21) and differed significantly (P < 0.01) from that of the STI rams in May (160 ± 33). In ISO rams, the number of grey pixels was higher (P < 0.05) in May (107 ± 3) than it was in March (99 ± 1). Stimulated and ISO rams did not differ significantly in mean LH plasma concentrations (0.8 ± 0.5 v. 0.9 ± 0.4 ng/ml), LH pulses (2.1 ± 0.5 v. 2.2 ± 0.2) and amplitude (2.0 ± 0.4 v. 3.2 ± 0.7 ng/ml, respectively). Stimulated rams had significantly higher testosterone concentrations than ISO rams from April to the end of the experiment. Stimulated rams performed more (P < 0.05) mountings with intromission (3.0 ± 0.4) than did ISO rams (1.5 ± 0.5). In conclusion, after 3 months in the continuous presence of ewes in estrus in spring, rams had higher TV and some testicular echogenic parameters were modified than isolated rams. Although exposed rams also had higher levels of testosterone after 2 months in the presence of estrous ewes, their LH pulsatility at the end of the study was not modified.
Wild sheep and many primitive domesticated breeds have two coats: coarse hairs covering shorter, finer fibres. Both are shed annually. Exploitation of wool for apparel in the Bronze Age encouraged breeding for denser fleeces and continuously growing white fibres. The Merino is regarded as the culmination of this process. Archaeological discoveries, ancient images and parchment records portray this as an evolutionary progression, spanning millennia. However, examination of the fleeces from feral, two-coated and woolled sheep has revealed a ready facility of the follicle population to change from shedding to continuous growth and to revert from domesticated to primitive states. Modifications to coat structure, colour and composition have occurred in timeframes and to sheep population sizes that exclude the likelihood of variations arising from mutations and natural selection. The features are characteristic of the domestication phenotype: an assemblage of developmental, physiological, skeletal and hormonal modifications common to a wide variety of species under human control. The phenotypic similarities appeared to result from an accumulation of cryptic genetic changes early during vertebrate evolution. Because they did not affect fitness in the wild, the mutations were protected from adverse selection, becoming apparent only after exposure to a domestic environment. The neural crest, a transient embryonic cell population unique to vertebrates, has been implicated in the manifestations of the domesticated phenotype. This hypothesis is discussed with reference to the development of the wool follicle population and the particular roles of Notch pathway genes, culminating in the specific cell interactions that typify follicle initiation.
Larval stage of genus Echinococcus is the causing agent for the zoonotic infection which is life threatening known as Echinococcosis. The purpose of this study was the identification, molecular analysis and characterization of Echinococcus spp. in sheep and cattle. The sampling was done from slaughterhouse of Elazig, Turkey. A total of 85 isolates (sheep, n = 19 and cattle, n = 66) have been collected after slaughtering. Following the gDNA isolation and PCR products of mt-CO1 gene (446 bp) of all the samples were sequenced. Out of 85 isolates, 84 were recognized as Echinococcus granulosus sensu stricto and one sheep isolate was found as Echinococcus canadensis (G6/G7 ) which is identified for the first time in Turkey. However, single nucleotide polymorphism has been observed not only in samples of different animals but also in samples collected from the same cattle. Six liver and three lung hydatid cysts have been detected in cattle. Although no nucleotide differences have been observed in the liver samples, there was single nucleotide polymorphism (C→T) in 40th nucleotide of two lung cysts. As a result of haplotype analysis, 16 haplotypes of E. granulosus s.s. were detected in 66 cattle isolates whereas 7 haplotypes of E. granulosus s.s. were identified in 19 sheep samples.
This study aimed to gain insight into how adipose tissue of Tibetan sheep regulates energy homoeostasis to cope with low energy intake under the harsh environment of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). We compared Tibetan and Small-tailed Han sheep (n 24 of each breed), all wethers and 1·5 years of age, which were each divided randomly into four groups and offered diets of different digestible energy (DE) densities: 8·21, 9·33, 10·45 and 11·57 MJ DE/kg DM. When the sheep lost body mass and were assumed to be in negative energy balance: (1) adipocyte diameter in subcutaneous adipose tissue was smaller and decreased to a greater extent in Tibetan than in Small-tailed Han sheep, but the opposite occurred in the visceral adipose tissue; (2) Tibetan sheep showed higher insulin receptor mRNA expression and lower concentrations of catabolic hormones than Small-tailed Han sheep and (3) Tibetan sheep had lower capacity for glucose and fatty acid uptake than Small-tailed Han sheep. Moreover, Tibetan sheep had lower AMPKα mRNA expression but higher mammalian target of rapamycin mRNA expression in the adipocytes than Small-tailed Han sheep. We concluded that Tibetan sheep had lower catabolism but higher anabolism in adipose tissue and reduced the capacity for glucose and fatty acid uptake to a greater extent than Small-tailed Han sheep to maintain energy homoeostasis when in negative energy balance. These responses provide Tibetan sheep with a high ability to cope with low energy intake and with the harsh environment of the QTP.
Technological and mathematical advances have provided opportunities to investigate new approaches for the holistic quantification of complex biological systems. One objective of these approaches, including the multi-inverse deterministic approach proposed in this paper, is to deepen the understanding of biological systems through the structural development of a useful, best-fitted inverse mechanistic model. The objective of the present work was to evaluate the capacity of a deterministic approach, that is, the multi-inverse approach (MIA), to yield meaningful quantitative nutritional information. To this end, a case study addressing the effect of diet composition on sheep weight was performed using data from a previous experiment on saccharina (a sugarcane byproduct), and an inverse deterministic model (named Paracoa) was developed. The MIA successfully revealed an increase in the final weight of sheep with an increase in the percentage of corn in the diet. Although the soluble fraction also increased with increasing corn percentage, the effective nonsoluble degradation increased fourfold, indicating that the increased weight gain resulted from the nonsoluble substrate. A profile likelihood analysis showed that the potential best-fitted model had identifiable parameters, and that the parameter relationships were affected by the type of data, number of parameters and model structure. It is necessary to apply the MIA to larger and/or more complex datasets to obtain a clearer understanding of its potential.
Cortisol is often used as a stress indicator in animal behaviour research. Cortisol is commonly measured in plasma and can also be measured in saliva. Saliva contains only the free form of cortisol, which is biologically active, and saliva sampling is not invasive and may therefore be less stressful. Our study aims to guide the choice between the measurements of cortisol in plasma v. saliva depending on experimental conditions. We analysed the effect of the level of cortisol in plasma on the concentration of cortisol in saliva compared to plasma and the effect of saliva sampling v. jugular venepuncture on the cortisol response. In Experiment 1, blood and saliva were collected simultaneously under conditions in which the expected cortisol release in blood varied: in an undisturbed situation or after the isolation of lambs from their pens or the administration of exogenous ACTH (six animals per treatment). In Experiment 2, we subjected lambs to saliva sampling, venepuncture or neither of these for 8 days to evaluate how stressful the sampling method was and whether the animals habituated to it by comparing the responses between the first and last days (four animals per treatment). All animals were equipped with jugular catheters to allow regular blood sampling without disturbance. Samples were collected 15 min before any treatment was applied, then at various time points up to 135 min in Experiment 1 and 45 min in Experiment 2. In Experiment 1, we observed a strong correlation between salivary and plasma cortisol concentrations (r = 0.81, P < 0.001). The ratio between salivary and plasma cortisol concentrations was 0.106 on average. This ratio was higher and more variable when the cortisol concentration in plasma was below 55 nmol/l. In Experiment 2, venepuncture induced a larger cortisol response than saliva sampling or no intervention on day 1 (P < 0.02); this difference was not observed on day 8, suggesting that sheep habituated to venepuncture. We recommend the measurement of cortisol in saliva to avoid stressing animals. However, when the expected concentration in plasma is below 55 nmol/l, the cortisol in saliva will reflect only the free fraction of the cortisol, which may be a limitation if the focus of the experiment is on total cortisol. In addition, if cortisol is measured in plasma and blood is collected by venepuncture, we recommend that sheep be habituated to venepuncture, at least to the handling required for a venepuncture.
Community-based breeding programs (CBBPs) for small ruminants have been suggested as alternatives to centralised, government-controlled breeding schemes which have been implemented in many developing countries. An innovative methodological framework on how to design, implement and sustain CBBPs was tested in three sites in Ethiopia: Bonga, Horro and Menz. In these CBBPs, the main selection trait identified through participatory approaches was 6-month weight in all three sites. In Horro and Bonga, where resources such as feed and water permitted larger litter sizes, twinning rate was included. Ten-year (2009 to 2018) performance data from the breeding programs were analysed using Average Information Restricted Maximum Likelihood method (AI-REML). Additionally, the socioeconomic impact of CBBPs was assessed. Results indicated that 6-month weight increased over the years in all breeds. In Bonga, the average increase was 0.21 ± 0.018 kg/year, followed by 0.18 ± 0.007 and 0.11 ± 0.003 kg/year in Horro and Menz, respectively. This was quite substantial in an on-farm situation. The birth weight of lambs did not improve over the years in Bonga and Horro sheep but significant increases occurred in Menz. Considering that there was no direct selection on birth weight in the community flock, the increased weights observed in Menz could be due to correlated responses, but this was not the case in Bonga and Horro. The genetic trend for prolificacy over the years in both Bonga and Horro flocks was positive and significant (P < 0.01). This increase in litter size, combined with the increased 6-month body weight, increased income by 20% and farm-level meat consumption from slaughter of one sheep per year to three. The results show that CBBPs are technically feasible, result in measurable genetic gains in performance traits and impact the livelihoods of farmers.
A cross-sectional survey was carried out to estimate the seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii in extensively grazed cattle and sheep from central Italy and to identify the related risk factors. Data on notified human Q fever cases in the area were also collected and described. A two-stage cluster sampling was performed. A total of 5083 animals (2210 cattle; 2873 sheep) belonging to 186 farms (92 herds; 94 flocks) were tested for the presence of antibodies against C. burnetii using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit. The prevalence at the animal-level resulted three times higher in sheep compared to cattle (37.8% vs. 12.0%; χ2 = 270.10, P < 0.001). The prevalence at the herd-level was also higher in sheep than in cattle (87.2% vs. 68.5%; χ2 = 9.52, P < 0.01). The multivariate analysis showed a higher risk of seropositivity for cattle aged 67–107 months (OR 2.79, 95% CI 1.86–4.18), cattle >107 months of age (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.36–3.14) and mixed breed cattle (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.11–2.72). A herd size >92 animals was recognized as herd-level risk factor in cattle (OR 6.88, 95% CI 1.67–28.37). The risk of being seropositive was double in sheep belonging to flocks >600 animals (odds ratio (OR) 2.04, 95% CI 1.63–2.56). Sheep were confirmed to be the most exposed species. Nevertheless, the prevalence observed in cattle also suggests the potential involvement of this species in the circulation of the pathogen in the area. Seven confirmed human Q fever cases were reported. In five out of seven cases there was at least one exposed herd within a 5 km buffer. Even though the source of the infection was not identified, the possibility of C. burnetii circulating in the livestock and human population in the study area cannot be overlooked. The integration between veterinary and human surveillance will be crucial to understand the spread of this zoonosis and to support the adoption of appropriate control measures.
Lamb live weight is one of the key drivers of profitability on sheep farms. Previous studies in Ireland have estimated genetic parameters for live weight and carcass composition traits using a multi-breed population rather than on an individual breed basis. The objective of the present study was to undertake genetic analyses of three lamb live weight and two carcass composition traits pertaining to purebred Texel, Suffolk and Charollais lambs born in the Republic of Ireland between 2010 and 2017, inclusive. Traits (with lamb age range in parenthesis) considered in the analyses were: pre-weaning weight (20 to 65 days), weaning weight (66 to 120 days), post-weaning weight (121 to 180 days), muscle depth (121 to 180 days) and fat depth (121 to 180 days). After data edits, 137 402 records from 50 372 lambs across 416 flocks were analysed. Variance components were derived using animal linear mixed models separately for each breed. Fixed effects included for all traits were contemporary group, age at first lambing of the dam, parity of the dam, a gender by age of the lamb interaction and a birth type by rearing type of the lamb interaction. Random effects investigated in the pre-weaning and weaning weight analyses included animal direct additive genetic, dam maternal genetic, litter common environment, dam permanent environment and residual variances. The model of analysis for post-weaning, muscle and fat depth included an animal direct additive genetic and litter common environment effect only. Significant direct additive genetic variation existed in all cases. Direct heritability for pre-weaning weight ranged from 0.14 to 0.30 across the three breeds. Weaning weight had a direct heritability ranging from 0.17 to 0.27 and post-weaning weight had a direct heritability ranging from 0.15 to 0.27. Muscle and fat depth heritability estimates ranged from 0.21 to 0.31 and 0.15 to 0.20, respectively. Positive direct correlations were evident for all traits. Results revealed ample genetic variation among animals for the studied traits and significant differences between breeds to suggest that genetic evaluations could be conducted on a per-breed basis.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the reduction in nematode faecal egg count (FEC) in Pelibuey lambs segregated as resistant (RES), susceptible (SUS) and intermediate (INT) to gastrointestinal nematodes. Twenty-nine weaned Pelibuey lambs, aged five months old, free of nematode infection, were used. Nine lambs were RES, six were SUS and 14 were INT lambs. The study consisted of two phases: in Phase 1 the lambs were infected experimentally with Haemonchus contortus. In Phase 2, the lambs were naturally infected by grazing. Faecal and blood samples were taken every week. The packed cell volume and total protein were quantified. The FEC value (FECmax) per lamb was recorded together with a natural reduction in FEC in the two phases. The data were analysed with a model of measures repeated over time. During Phase 1, the RES lambs showed the lowest FEC (1061 ± 1053) compared to the other groups (INT: 2385 ± 1794 eggs per gram of faeces (EPG); and SUS: 3958 ± 3037 EPG). However, in Phase 2 no significant differences (p > 0.05) were observed between the groups of lambs (RES: 275 ± 498 EPG; SUS: 504 ± 1036 EPG; and INT: 603 ± 1061 EPG). At the end of Phase 1, the FEC of RES lambs was naturally reduced by 75.5% in respect to FECmax (p < 0.05), and at the end of Phase 2 the reduction in FEC was 90% in respect to FECmax (p > 0.05); the same behaviour was observed in RES and SUS lambs. It is concluded that the artificial infection in the lambs induced a more rapid immune response in RES than SUS lambs, and all lambs developed high acquired resistance by continuous infection.
Slow-release urea (SRU) can substitute dietary protein sources in the diet of feedlotting ruminant species . However, different SRU structures show varying results of productive performance. This study was conducted to investigate the effect of different sources of nitrogen on performance, blood parameter, ruminal fermentation and relative population of rumen microorganisms in male Mehraban lambs. Thirty-five male lambs with an average initial BW of 34.7 ± 1.8 kg were assigned randomly to five treatments. Diets consisted of concentrate mixture and mineral and vitamin supplements plus (1) alfalfa and soybean meal, (2) wheat straw and soybean meal, (3) wheat straw and urea, (4) wheat straw and Optigen® (a commercial SRU supplement) and (5) wheat straw and SRU produced in the laboratory. No statistical difference was observed in animal performance and DM intake among treatments. The mean value of ruminal pH and ammonia was higher (P < 0.05) for the SRU diet compared with WU diet. The difference in pH is likely to be due to the higher ammonia level as VFAs concentrations were unchanged. The level of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) was different among treatments (P = 0.065). The highest concentration of BUN was recorded in Optigen diet (183.1 mg/l), whereas the lowest value was recorded in wheat straw-soybean meal diet (147 mg/l). The amount of albumin and total protein was not affected by the treatments. The relative population of total protozoa, Fibrobacter succinogenes, Ruminococcus flavefaciens and Ruminococcus albus in the SRU treatment was higher (P < 0.01) than that in urea treatment at 3 h post-feeding. During the period of lack of high-quality forage and in order to reduce dietary costs, low-quality forage with urea sources can be used in the diet. Results of microbial populations revealed that SRU can be used as a nitrogen source which can sustainably provide nitrogen for rumen microorganism without negative effects on the performance of feedlotting lambs.
The nutritional intake of Tibetan sheep on the harsh Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is often under maintenance requirements, especially during the long, cold winter. However, they have adapted well and even thrive under these conditions. The aim of the present study was to gain insight into how the rumen epithelium of Tibetan sheep has adapted to the consumption of low-energy-level diets. For this purpose, we compared Tibetan and small-tailed Han sheep (n 24 of each breed, all wethers and 1·5 years of age), which were divided randomly into one of four groups and offered ad libitum diets of different digestible energy (DE) densities: 8·21, 9·33, 10·45 and 11·57 MJ DE/kg DM. The Tibetan sheep had higher rumen concentrations of total SCFA, acetate, butyrate and iso-acids but lower concentrations of propionate than small-tailed Han sheep. The Tibetan sheep had higher absorption capability of SCFA due to the greater absorption surface area and higher mRNA expression of the SCFA absorption relative genes than small-tailed Han sheep. For the metabolism of SCFA in the rumen epithelium, the small-tailed Han sheep showed higher utilisation of the ketogenesis pathway than Tibetan sheep; however, Tibetan sheep had greater regulation capacity in SCFA metabolism pathways. These differences between breeds allowed the Tibetan sheep to have greater capability of absorbing SCFA and better capacity to regulate the metabolism of SCFA, which would allow them to cope with low energy intake better than small-tailed Han sheep.
This chapter provides an overview of prehistoric transhumance in the Mediterranean. Transhumant pastoralism is presented as a distinct husbandry strategy, with a specific socio-economic and ecological background.