Case Study

Organic sheep, goats and cattle


Organic sheep, goats and cattle


1. Introduction

Ioannis Anthoulis is a young man (37 years old) who has worked with transhumance farming systems for more than 20 years. He succeeded his father on the management of farm activities. Nowadays, he owns a big organic farm with 3000 sheep, 50 goats, and 200 cattle.

2. Basic information

Main promoter

Ioannis Anthoulis

Start of the practice



Potamia, Greece

Organisations involved
  • Farmer(s)
Total surface of land farmed in ha
  • 1100 ha
Ownership of the land used for transhumance farming
  • Own land
  • Rented public land
Basic produce

Basic products of the transhumance farming practice are milk, meat, cheese products (feta, graviera, manouri) and wool.

EL612 Larisa (Winter), EL531 Grevena (Summer)
  • Main farm


  • Summer pastures


3. Situation before startup/ change/ continuation

Ioannis Anthoulis grandfather established the farm. His father continued this tradition. Since he was 14 years old, Ioannis Anthoulis has been an active farmer. The entire family has been relocated over the years to the same winter and summer region. During winter, the family stays in Blaxogianni village in Elassona area. During summer, the family stays in Samarina village in Grevena prefecture. Ioannis Anthoulis graduated from high school and attended a vocational training facility for informatics. His knowledge is empirical and passed down from generation to generation.

4. Transhumance farming business description

Landscape type

Corine-Land-cover categorization and codes:

  • Natural grasslands (321)
  • Sparsely vegetated areas (333)
Animal type/ breed

Ioannis Anthoulis has certified sheep breeds such as Sarakatsaniko and Mpoutsiko and Red cow breed. 

Movement patterns

Fifteen years ago, the movement was vertical on foot. Today, Ioannis Anthoulis moves his flock from lowlands to highlands with vehicles during May. He needs about 17 vehicles. Thus, he spends a huge amount on this movement. The family also moves with cars. In October, Ioannis Anthoulis moves from the highlands to the lowlands on foot for around 12-20 days. Only sick animals are moved with a vehicle.

Kind of cooperation

Most meat production is sold to the company “Farma Elassonas”. Moreover, Ioannis Anthoulis sells a smaller quantity to his butchery in the Samarina village during summer. The milk production is sold to a cheese factory. However, Ioannis Anthoulis produces 500 tin cans of feta cheese and a small quantity of kefalograviera and manouri cheese, which he sells on his own.

Threats & challenges

In addition to the work carried out by his family, Ioannis Anthoulis uses seven permanent workers to help him with his livestock. He informs us that he has trouble finding workers willing to work on his farm throughout the year. For many years, he employed emigrants from Albania and Bulgaria. Unfortunately, many changed occupations or returned to their home countries. Thus, the chance to have workers is limited. Another problem is the lack of understanding by people who do not know what transhumant livestock farming is and its importance. Ioannis Anthoulis and his workers face significant problems mainly when approaching residential areas with their flock. He gave us an example of his father, who was stopped for a check by the police. Since he did not have his ID, he was forced to leave the animals alone for several hours. As a result, significant damage was done because nobody could protect the livestock from wild animals. In addition, Ioannis Anthoulis told

5. Decisions taken


Ioannis Anthoulis believes that transhumance is a way of life. He has been involved with animals since he was four years old. He remembers to follow the traditional routes and considers it a unique experience. He likes animals, mountains, but also the whole process of transhumance moving. However, he follows this job because it is the main source of income for him and his family. 

Decision for the kind of animal/ specific breed

Ioannis Anthoulis mentioned that he has autochthone breeds, which are well adapted to the environment of the Greek country but have low yields.

Decision for the production system

Ioannis Anthoulis chooses to have an organic farm, which gives him a higher income. It is known that organic milk prices are higher, and the organic products have higher quality. 

Diversification of income

Ioannis Anthoulis would like the state to give him more incentives to maintain his breeds and not force him to use improved breeds to make more profit. He does not like to use improved breeds because he wants to follow the traditional way of carrying out transhumance. For this reason, he continues to milk his animals by hand in the mountains. Currently, the flock is very large, and he does not have time to deal with anything else than his current practice.

Multifunctional aspects

Ioannis Anthoulis believes that rangelands, when managed properly, can cover the demands of animals without any supplement by the farmers. He believes that the vegetation from mountain pastures is very rich, which gives added value to their products.

6. Training/ skills to establish the business

Ioannis Anthoulis communicates with other farmers via Facebook. He has no training besides his empirical knowledge.

7. Next steps to move on

Ioannis Anthoulis believes that the problems caused by staff shortages may soon force him to reduce the flock and set up a small business to sell his products.

8. Quote and recommendation of the promoter

Ioannis Anthoulis believes that the programs for young farmers do not significantly help them to become a transhumance farmer. The costs for the purchase of animals and the appropriate infrastructure are very high. Young farmers ought to have their own money to get started in the business.

On the other hand, Ioannis Anthoulis would not suggest to a young person to start with transhumance if the person does not have the appropriate experience. He considers that the person should join a transhumance practitioner and then decide whether to become a transhumance farmer or not.