After a long, snowy winter and rapidly changing weather in spring the sheep from the Life+ “Beskidy”Project are looking forward to the first morning rays of sunshine falling into the sheepshed through a small window. The head shepherd comes through the door carrying a bucket filled with fodder and spreads the scent of fresh grass and the pasture warmed by the sun. The flock prepares to go out.
Before we let the sheep out
The grazing season which begins at the end of May is an especially important period during the implementation of the LIFE Project No. LIFE12 NAT/PL/000081 entitled “Conservation of Non-forest Habitats in the Area of the Landscape Parks in the Beskid Mountains”. Because of different location in relation to the altitude of environmentally valuable pastures and glades covered by the Project on which the grazing is carried out, the sheep are put out on the areas located lower that are already green due to spring sun and subsequently they go to mountain meadows localised higher. The implementers of the Project in the period preceding putting out the sheep on the pastures do not have much time to check the condition of the conservation of the surface after winter. Because of the snow cover lingering for a long time, reaching the higher areas of mountains requires much effort and time and all this aims to ensure the sustainability of the Project objectives –regeneration and conservation of non-forest habitats especially valuable in terms of environment through the active environmental protection procedures, such as sheep grazing. During the standard control of the surface before the grazing season the following are taken into account, among others: the thickness of the snow cover if it still lingers, the possibility to reach a given glade with animals and damages caused by eventual works carried out by independent entities or natural factors, e.g. extraction of trees or additional watercourses emerging in spring. All information is transmitted to contractors responsible for the grazing, who will locate the flock in such a way that the environmental conditions at the beginning of the grazing season are used in the best possible way.
Feeding the sheep
Three systems of feeding sheep can be distinguished in Poland. First of them is indoor feeding involving the year-long raising of animals in a specially adapted room. In the case of breeding where there is no possibility to put out the animals on the pasture, an appropriately designed and managed sheepshed together with a balanced diet may ensure comfortable conditions for sheep and lead to their high productivity. This system works the most in large productions, in which high quality equipment and modern solutions in the construction of rooms are ensured. The lack of proper technical conditions and access to sunlight, lingering humidity and the number of animals in the enclosure may lead to numerous diseases.
The second system of feeding sheep which can be distinguished is pasture feeding, which involves keeping animals outside all year long. It refers to the traditional form of sheepherding which came to the Beskid Mountains together with nomadic Vlachs.
The indoor pasture system which constitutes a balanced combination of twenty-four-hour care of animals in sheepsheds in the winter season and putting out the animals outdoors gradually depending on the moment in the growing season is the most used system of raising sheep in Polish farms. The sheep in the Beskid Mountains spend the year this way.
Ensuring that the sheep have access to fresh unprocessed food has many advantages. The so-called “green fodder”is characterised by a high content of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, higher concentration of energy than in silages prepared from green fodder for winter season without losing nutrients and energy as in preservation. The sheep that graze on pastures are characterised by better health and condition and lower susceptibility to illnesses due to outdoor activities, effects of rays of sunshine and access to various vegetable food. The animals may travel on the pasture even several kilometres a day to find tasty plants, which has a positive influence on the condition of hock joints, knee joints and hoofs. In open space the sheep have an opportunity to move freely and carry out many natural activities. Those factors cause that the hierarchy in the flock is more dispersed and is not a stress factor, the animals are rested and relaxed, which increased the efficiency of the production and reduces its costs.
Control of the condition of tourist infrastructure
Within the framework of the Project tourist infrastructure has been placed along the tourist trails and in places attractive for the tourists and every visitor may use it. Observation towers built within the framework of the Project as well as information and education boards passed their first whole winter season during which they were exposed to adverse weather conditions. The implementers of the Project check the condition of the structures before the peak season so that they are safe and simultaneously interesting places for fatigued hikers to relax. If you want to visit those places we would like to remind you that two observation platforms have been built and 21 education and information boards have been placed within the framework of the Project. One of the platforms with a view of the Silesian Beskids has been placed at Stary Grońin the Brenna Municipality at the black tourist trail from Brenna to Grabowa, the second one has been placed at the Duży Rachowiec hill in the Rajcza Municipality near the longest ski tow in Zwardoń. The information and education boards have been placed next to the platforms, near the shepherd’s hut built within the framework of the Project in Bukowina in the Węgierska Górka Municipality and at the tourist trail in the Żywiec Beskids: yellow trail from Redykalny Wierch to Hala Lipowska and red trail leading from Rysianka towards Żabnica.
If you are interested in the details regarding the Project we encourage you to visit our website: and contact with the implementers!