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Understanding and promoting range management by herders in eastern Turkey

Research report

Research report

This paper describes the pastoral situation in Erzurum Province, north-eastern Anatolia, Turkey, and gives an account of some of the existing range management practices. It emphasises the necessity of understanding existing pastoral practices, and more importantly the circumstances that give rise to them, when planning the improvement of livestock husbandry, breeding, fodder production and pasture management. Erzurum province is one of the most important areas in Turkey for the production of sheep and cattle for fattening and slaughter. Not only is it important as a source of red meat and store animals for the domestic market, but also for export to Turkey's middle-eastern neighbours. In addition the herds of cattle and more especially the flocks of sheep, produce dairy products, mainly cheese as well as carpet wool. Livestock husbandry practices are still based almost exclusively on the seasonal use of rangelands, alpine pastures and hay meadows supplemented wherever possible by planted fodder and fodder grain crops: irrigated lucerne, dry land sainfoin and vetches, barley and rye. This feed base is however recognised as being inadequate for the numbers of stock involved, especially through the long harsh east Anatolian winter, when the resident village flocks and herds are housed in dark and primitive stables. Much of the range-land is degraded, overstocked and over-grazed. Furthermore much of the hay crop is sold out of the Province for cash, leaving many of the resident herds and flocks to survive the winter on a diet based largely on chopped straw.

Anthony Fitzherbert