Case Study

Sheep, goats and cattle


Sheep, goats and cattle


1. Introduction

Demetrios Tsatsos is a young man (38 years old) who has dealt with transhumance farming systems for over twenty years. He took over the flock from his father with 500 sheep. Now, he has enlarged his organic farm, which has 800 sheep, 100 goats, and 110 cattle.

2. Basic information

Main promoter

Demetrios Tsatsos

Start of the practice



Theodoros Ziakas, Greece

Organisations involved
  • Farmer(s)
Total surface of land farmed in ha
  • 1400 ha
Ownership of the land used for transhumance farming
  • Own land
  • Rented private land
  • Rented public land
Basic produce
  • Milk
  • Meat
  • Wool.
EL612 Larisa (Winter), EL531 Grevena (Summer)
  • Summer pastures

  • Farm


3. Situation before startup/ change/ continuation

Demetrios Tsatsos grandfather created the farm with a small flock of 40 heads. During summer, he joined his flock with the flock of the farm where he worked as a herder. After that, the whole family remained transhumant livestock breeders. All these years, the family moved in the same winter and summer region. During the summer, the family stayed in the nearest village. Demetrios Tsatsos is a high school graduate without any further training. His empirical expertise has been passed 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

Demetrios Tsatsos has local breeds of sheep and goats, and the Greek red cow breed.

Movement patterns

The movement was vertical on foot until 2009. Nowadays, Demetrios Tsatsos moves from lowlands to highlands with vehicles during May. In October, he moves from highlands to the lowlands on foot for one week.

Kind of cooperation

The milk production is sold to the milk industry while the meat is sold to the meat market.

Threats & challenges

Demetrios Tsatsos said that transhumant livestock husbandry had been supported over the past few decades by foreign workers who, unfortunately, departed to their country of origin or moved to other professions after the economic crisis. Another problem is the increase of wild animal species, such as wolves and bears, which are enemies of their livestock. Moreover, the climatic conditions cause many problems. Because of climatic changes, the weather has changed in the highlands the last few years. Demetrios Tsatsos believes that the decrease in the transhumance livestock system reduced the available forage for his animals due to shrub encroachment. Moreover, problems occur with tourists and hunters, and during the movement with the citizens in the urban areas.

5. Decisions taken


The main reason to work with transhumance livestock farming is the economic profit.

Decision for the kind of animal/ specific breed

Demetrios Tsatsos has local breeds, but he believes that one way to increase his income would be to replace his animals with more productive breeds.

Decision for the production system

Demetrios Tsatsos decided to change his farming to an organic production system. Additionally, being a transhumance livestock farmer is a job he likes to do. He really feels sad as this profession has currently a significant decrease trend. He grew up with transhumance and likes the mountain and his animals.

Diversification of income

Demetrios Tsatsos tries to improve his life and to save time using milk machinery both in the lowland and highlands.

Multifunctional aspects

Demetrios Tsatsos believes that the transhumance system helps maintain biodiversity and decreases the encroachment of the shrub species.

6. Training/ skills to establish the business

Unfortunately, there are no training offers or counseling for farmers.

7. Next steps to move on

His plan is to replace his animals with more productive animals, and he is thinking of selling the animal’s products himself.

8. Quote and recommendation of the promoter

Demetrios Tsatsos knows that transhumance farming helps in the maintenance of rangelands and mountains. He was involved in transhumant livestock farming from a very young age and knows all the difficulties of this system and its happiness. 

He said that it is a tough job for someone to start without knowledge. 

He said, “Join us for one week, and you feel well after that, maybe you will choose it as a profession,” and added, “Don’t do anything without putting your soul into it.”