Case Study

Cooperation in transhumance


Cooperation in transhumance


1. Introduction

The Biofarm is an example of a cooperation between the administrative body of a national park (the Slovak Karst) and a business entity. The goal of raising goats is ecological grazing. Grazing maintains pastures with a varied composition of herbaceous species and protected plant species. The pastures in the valley of the Turňa Creek located under the Silica Plateau are an important element of the landscape character. The valley is the gateway for tourists to the karst plateau.

2. Basic information

Main promoter

Mária Iván Tamáš

Start of the practice



Silická Jablonica, Slovakia

Organisations involved
  • Private landowner(s)
Total surface of land farmed in ha
  • ca 20 ha
Ownership of the land used for transhumance farming
  • Own land
  • Rented private Land
Basic produce
  • Meat
  • Landscape
  • Biodiversity
SK042 Košice Region
  • Main farm

    Farm and pastures


3. Situation before startup/ change/ continuation

The primary motivation for starting the business was the idea: “a place where a man has many, many possibilities to work throughout his life, where the man is part of the land, and where he could improve the land.” The Biofarm is an excellent example for future entrepreneurs who would like to stay in business in the countryside but cannot find an idea that would provide them with enough income to live on. Ecological breeding of farm animals is attractive especially for the young generation, who cares about the environment’s quality.

The reason for starting the Biofarm was the family’s tradition of raising farm animals. Mária Iván Tamáš parents kept cattle and were also engaged in beekeeping. Grazing – a sustainable way of land use – took place in the entire village in the past, because of the natural conditions in the karst area. A communal shepherd or alternating private shepherds managed all animals together. Currently, organic farming has a strictly controlled number of animals per area. Therefore, it is impossible to combine the grazing of organically bred animals with others bred, for example, by neighbours.

4. Transhumance farming business description

Landscape type

Grazing is carried out on pastures surrounded by a forest landscape. Former overgrown pastures on slopes, especially steeper slopes, have been gradually turning into forest. The pastures on the mountain plateaus have also slowly overgrown because they are at a distance from the village and there are not enough farm animals to graze the pastures. The organic Biofarm grazes pastures in the valley of the Turňa Creek at an altitude of approximately 250-300 m above sea level.

E-Atlas: Pasture. Link

Animal type/ breed

Only goats are used in the organic farming. In addition to goat breeding, beekeeping complements the business.

Movement patterns

The case study is an example of horizontal movement of farm animals in the countryside.

Kind of cooperation

In addition to goat breeding, beekeeping complements the business. Both goat breeding and beekeeping can be characterised as value-added businesses. Grazing helps to maintain the quality of the grass-herb composition and biodiversity of the pastures. Beekeeping contributes to increasing the production of crops and fruit trees. The Biofarm does not have a store.

Markets addressed/ product selling

The biggest challenge is expanding the business. The business is limited by bureaucracy and insufficient staffing.

Threats & challenges

In a region where unemployment is high, finding a reliable herder who has a positive attitude towards animals is paradoxically difficult. To educate more herders, interested workers could be trained in a social enterprise, where they could acquire knowledge and habits of working with farm animals.

5. Decisions taken


The most important factor for starting the business was the personal interest in continuing the family tradition of animal husbandry and beekeeping.

Decision for the kind of animal/ specific breed

Unlike the traditionally bred cattle, the decision was made to breed goats.

Decision for the production system

Since grazing takes place in the national park, such a decision greatly benefits the national park. Therefore, we can summarise that ecological and social reasons were the most important for starting the business.

Diversification of income

Income in business is diversified by beekeeping. The main product is honey. Beekeeping is realised by placing the bees close to specific pollen sources, and then producing different kinds of honey (e.g., agate).

Multifunctional aspects

We can summarise that the business has the following multifunctional aspects: biodiversity, landscape, environment, climate, and pollination.

6. Training/ skills to establish the business

Starting a business requires at least any education related to land use, although the most ideal is an education in agriculture. Training and courses for young farmers are also a great help. Finally, for an entrepreneur to be successful, a positive personal relationship with animals and nature, and enjoying the job are essential. Working with animals in the family farm and acquired experience during childhood are crucial for the current business activity.

7. Next steps to move on

Goats are raised with an exclusively ecological goal – to increase the quality of the grass and herbaceous vegetation and to preserve the landscape character of the Turňa Creek valley.

Currently, in the given social and economic situation, the goal of the business is to preserve the current model and rely on traditions.

If a suitable shepherd could be found in the future, it would be possible to consider expanding the business.

8. Quote and recommendation of the promoter

The most considerable benefit of doing this business is working at a place of one’s residence and improving the surrounding environment. The feeling of creating and enhancing the quality of the countryside motivates Mária Iván Tamáš to continue working even when the business environment in Slovakia is not friendly for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. The challenge for the future is to leave the established model and try to move the business further either by expanding the current activities or offering bee products.

Examples of good practice would greatly help farmers in Slovakia such as examples of functioning small and medium-sized enterprises from abroad. In these examples, they could find new ideas, lessons learned, and positive attitudes (i.e., not giving up and overcoming obstacles).