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Mediteranian cattle and sheep in cerossbreeding

FAO policy in regard to breed conservation has always been that it is not justified to preserve breeds for their own make. Livestock broods have been developed by man for his own use and their preservation must be justified by the use to which they can be pat in the future. It is easyto ace the value of a high-producing pure breed when it in given optimum conditions. It is more difficult to realize that another breed which cannot compete under theme optimum conditions may have a role to play in a different environment,, under changed conditions in the future, or in some sophisticatedcrossbreeding system. To explore this situation requires research which must go hand in hand with development efforts.

Over the years FAOhas been actively ~god in assisting developing countries not only to promote livestock development but also to strengthen their research capabilities* A technical consultation of this kind brings together experts from different countries who can share their experience and explore the possibilities for extending research and development on common lines in a specific field.

The FAO Expert Consultation on Animal Production and Health Research hold in August 1974 recommended that FAO should initiate international action to establish cooperative research programmesin four priority areas. One was breed comparisons and crossbreeding* Our programme in breed comparison research includes the comparison of Friesian strains ana of Red cattle broods. It also includes work by several FA0/UNDP projects in developing countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa. One to which 1 should like to draw special attention is the comparison of beef cattle breeds in Botswana. This project has shown that, under the harsh local environmental conditions, the local cattle are superior to any imported breed but that, as a result of hybridvigour, crossbreeding with imported breeds has a role to play.

In European agriculture the moot striking changes in recent years have been in its intensification. In cattle breeding this ban meant the spread of the high-yielding dairy and dual-purpose broods ouch as the andBrown Swiss. They have been used to grade up and to replace the local broods which wore multi-purpose animals supplying the farmers' needs for draught power and milk, and also giving them an income from males of dairy products and beef. The Pilot Study on Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources which FAO carried out in conjunction with UNEPhas revealed the extent to which this replacement has taken place. Out Of 115 broods indigenous to Europe mad the Mediterranean basin, only 33 were holding their own in 1974. If thin replacement of breeds loads to greater or more efficient production of animal protein it is clearly a trend to be encouragedBut it must be remembered that the improved breeds need a better *=ironment than those they are replacing. This means more feed of higher qualityprotection from climatic extremes,more careful management and higher hygienic standards. In marginal land areas these improvements may be impossible. As a matter of fact the tendency has been for such lands to go out of agriculture production. This applies particularly to the mountainous Mediterranean zones with their poor soil and alternation of hot dry summers and cold wet winters. Such land can only be exploited agriculturally either through forests or throughpasture. And the pasture can only be used by adapted broods of cattle and sheep kept under extensive systems of ement

The present meeting has been arranged in order to look f~wther into the adapted breeding and production system for utilizing marginal lands. The scope of the meeting has been expanded to include sheep as well as cattle because of the importance of sheep in the exploitation of mountainous areas.

Finally we wish to discuss to what extent it may be possible to spread a system as developed in Prance and Sardinia to other countries. We should like to have recommendations for cooperative research programmes and for development projects aimed at conserving local breeds as a means of exploiting marginal Mediterranean lands for meat production.

These conclusions concern the cattle and sheep populations of the Mediterranean region, excluding the arid areas. However, the local sheep populations probably have a bigger future than the local cattle,and goats have an important role in some countries. In this region landuse policies must recognize the varying and often conflicting claims of crops, livestock, fourism,water catchment, wildlife, industry and urbanization Differences in climate, topography and soil load to a great diversity in the agricultural potential of different areas, often within a single country.

In general one can recognize two types of situations (1) The better land, where animals have to compete with crops;hare the objective is to intensify animal production and integrate it with crop production. (2) Marginal land where only extensive animal production is possible; this can be integrated with forestry and tourism.

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