Who guides the shepherd? Competition or cooperation? Nature and culture production with sheep flocks.
A study was carried out in the Netherlands to assess the financial situation of shepherds looking after flocks, mainly on heathlands. A total of 47 businesses, employing 90 shepherds, are active, as well as 73 businesses without heathland management (but using sheep for grazing dikes, urban areas etc.). A typical flock of 250 ewes in the south has a financial deficit of 28 600 EUROS/year. This deficit is even bigger in the north with yeear-round grazing. This is mainly due to high labour costs (70% of total in the south and 80% of total in the north). Total costs are not matched by income from meat and wool sales (32 and 35%, respectively), compensation for landscape management including provincial subsidies (59 and 57%, respectively) and subsidies from national agricultural policies (9%). Most undervalued are cultural-historical values. Recommendations are presented to improve the situation.