Sheep and goat herding was traditionally the main stockbreeding activity on the country, especially in mountainous or island regions. In Lemnos, as in other islands, traditional stockbreeding was small-scale, based on limited local resources, and hence extensive in character.
Folowing the prevailing intensification trends, livestock farms in Lemnos have become larger, some have invested in modern equipment and to a certain degree they have practiced uncontrollable crossbreeding -or even total substitution- of local animal breeds with other, Greek or foreign, breeds that are considered more productive.
Animals of local breeds are much better adapted to the local conditions, offering multiple benefits for production, through their frugal dietary needs, resistance to disease and local climate and weather conditions, as well as greater adaptivity to the semi-extensive conditions of grazing in the relatively low yielding pastures of the island, reducing the need for buying (or cultivating) fodder.
On the other hand, farmland in Lemnos today is mostly used for fodder production, with legumes and cereals -mostly barley and oat- which are favoured by local soil and climatic conditions. Therefore, the majority of the island’s farms remain mixed, securing in part the dietary needs of livestock through self-production.
Intensification of the traditional livestock farming model of the island has had adverse effects in the main stockbreeding areas; use of fertilisers and herbicides in the crops has negative impacts on the soils and biodiversity, while increased needs for purchasing fodder have made producers facing higher production costs, being dependent on foreign food sources (sometimes of questionable quality), jeopardizing their ability to produce quality products.
The Terra Lemnia project aims to support the semi-extensive livestock farming system of Lemnos, which is based on the balance between free grazing and cultivation of quality fodder crops, seeking to support production of high-quality animal products while mitigating negative environmental effects.
In this context the agronomist team led by the Agricultural University of Athens, provides guidance and technical support to local farmers regarding improved pasture management, supervises pilot cultivations of fodder and forage crops based on Medicago seeds and intercropping of cereals and legumes, carries out genetic analyses of sheep aiming to determine their genetic profile and to characterize the locally adapted breeds, and has been recording the characteristics of milk from farms with different management practices. In parallel, various open capacity building actions have been organized in the island, attracting many livestock farmers and a field visit to livestock farms and cheese making facilities in Central Greece has been organized, attended by 20 Lemnian practitioners.
During the first year of the project visits were made in many of the islands mandres, the stockraising farms, in an effort to record the current situation of Lemnian stockbreeding, while during the second year started the implementation of actions and the educational events in cooperation with interested producers
The Terra Lemnia Project has begun! Please find all the necessary information for the practices we run and learn how you can participate in one of them!