M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentSegal Ella
SubjectSpatial and Socioeconomic Charateristics of Goat Herding
in Mount Carmel
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors PROF. Yohay Carmel
PROF. Serge-Yan Landau
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


The Mediterranean Basin has experienced various agro-pastoral human disturbances such as grazing, logging and prescribed fires for millennia. More recently, exclusion and abandonment of traditional practices in Mediterranean regions, especially herding, led to rapid vegetation recovery, which in turn created dense scrub, and resulted in low structural heterogeneity, biodiversity loss, and increased wildfire hazard. Livestock grazing is one of the most efficient and a cost-effective tool for fire management. Effective grazing management is most likely to be applied by goat flocks as they browse woody vegetation much more than cattle and sheep. The main challenge of using goat flocks for targeted grazing in Mount Carmel is the paucity of traditional goat herds and their unknown spatial distribution.

This research aimed to identify the main characteristics of goat flocks in Mt. Carmel, considering their current grazing patterns, stocking rates, and biomass removal. In addition, this research evaluated spatial and socioeconomic types of goat herding in Mount Carmel and tested for possible relations between them. The principal aim was to assess the potential of grazing services that goat flocks may provide in Mt. Carmel. Monitoring grazing density and distribution was made using GPS collars in fourteen goat flocks in Mount Carmel and included interviews of flock owners.

Altogether, there were 1,300 goats in fourteen goat flocks, average flock size was 93±20.2 goats (not including males and kids). The flocks were classified to three groups by main husbandry objective: (1) meat (four flocks), (2) multi-purpose; milk, dairy products and meat (eight flocks), and (3) other (education-one flock and leisure- one flock). Grazing strategies included two main groups: foraging with a dominant shepherd (nine flocks) and foraging escorted only by shepherd dogs (five flocks).

Average grazing distance was 4.6 ± 0.1 (km/day) and maximum distance from goat pen was 2.0 ± 0.1 (km). Average grazing duration is 4.4 ± 0.1 (hr/day) and average grazing speed is 1.1 ± 0.01 (km/hr).  At the landscape scale, the annual average number of grazing days per hectare was 9.4±3.1. Annual stocking rates varied between seasons (dry and rainy) and between grazing strategies (with or without a dominant shepherd). Average biomass removed per hectare was 864±173 kg DM/year/ha.

Based on hierarchical clustering of pasture use two clusters of grazing types were identified; minimalists and maximalists. These two groups represent different management strategies according to the intensity level of pasture use and represent different management strategies. Tradition was the only socio-economic parameter that corresponded significantly to the differences between distinct grazing types and socio-economic parameters.

This research offers a new approach for characterization small ruminant farms providing grazing services. The relationship between physical grazing traits and socioeconomic information can expand our understanding of grazing services that local goat flocks can provide, and may promote more sustainable and resilient landscape management. This study addresses Mount Carmel area specifically, but the general approach could be applied to other Mediterranean ecosystems as a multi-purpose interface tool of pasture land.