The World of Sheep and Goats- a global view of small ruminant production Book
In a world in which attention seems to be entirely focused on differences and division, it is heartening to find a book which emphasises shared interests and common goals. “The World of Sheep and Goats- a global view of small ruminant production” brings together several hundred pictures and texts contributed by vets and small ruminant advisers from all over the world, showing aspects of sheep and goat production in over fifty countries. The images and texts were submitted by delegates attending the 9th International Sheep Veterinary Congress in Harrogate in 2017.
No guidelines had been given in advance, so it might have been expected that the images would depict individual situations around the world and would emphasise a wide diversity in approaches and issues. Instead, what emerged was a fascinating and frequently beautiful illustration of the fact that although locations, systems and environments differed, the same concerns and values based on an overwhelming enthusiasm for improving sheep and goat welfare and production kept occurring.
Now made into a book, the reader is given an insight into the challenges faced by sheep and goat producers globally. The cultural and social importance of small ruminant production is illustrated, from the transhumant shepherds who still walk their sheep to seasonal grazing along ancient routes in Spain, Germany and Italy to nomadic shepherds in India, all of whom are concerned that our changing society threatens their traditional routes and a long-established way of life. This theme of change is behind Cathy Dwyer’s image, “Lamb on the edge” which is used for the cover of the book.
The importance of learning from these traditional practices as well as from those who understand their local area is emphasised in contributions from around the world. The challenges presented by the protection and reintroduction of predators such as wolves in countries across Europe are shown to be of concern and matches long-held concerns from Canada. Several images remind us that however appealing the guard dogs may appear, they are anything but pets!
For many, sheep and goat farming is providing a pathway out of poverty in areas in which no other form of agriculture would be productive. Many projects across the world where improvements in small-scale farming can improve living standards are shown.
The role of women and children in sheep and goat production is a recurrent theme. In many countries, women have always combined the roles of managing the household with caring for any animals, and the book shows projects which focus on empowering women and valuing their essential contribution.
Many texts refer to challenges ahead, from the effects of a changing society to concerns about the environment and the sustainability of many farming practices. There is still, however, a great deal of hope and positivity. Sheep and goats are recognised as having many environmentally-friendly attributes as they can thrive in areas that would otherwise be unusable; modern technology can make working practices safer and more efficient and above all, there is an appreciation of the sense of pride and satisfaction found among livestock farmers all over the world. This means that any advances will stem from a feeling of mutual respect and from partnerships forged among all those involved.
The book is available from the Moredun Foundation for £20 including delivery. https://portal.moredun.org.uk/shop/books-dvds/world-sheep-and-goats-uk-delivery
It is also available from https://www.5mbooks.com/the-world-of-sheep-and-goats-a-global-view-of-small-ruminant-production.html
All profits will be donated to the Karl Linklater Fund which will be used to help small ruminant specialists from emerging countries attend the 10th International Sheep Veterinary Congress in Seville in 2021.
Book Front Cover - Lamb on the Edge, Morocco Contributed by Cathy Dwyer