International Forum on Sheep and Goats (CIOC)

CIOC - Carrefour International Ovin/Caprin
Carrefour International Ovin/Caprin - Crédit CIOC

  Why an international gathering studying sheep and goats ?

An unmatched occasion based on the sheep sector generally and local mountain breeds in particular, the Festival de la Brebis (Ewe Festival) used to be organized every four years at the Lycée Agricole de Saint-Affrique (Aveyron/France). This Festival has now been replaced by the first Carrefour International Ovin/Caprin (international forum on sheep and goats) (CIOC).

The four organizing partners are : Unité Pour la RAce Lacaune (UPRA Lacaune), the Collectif des RAces locales des Massifs (CORAM) and the Lycée Agricole La Cazotte de Saint-Affrique (Aveyron). The goat sector, which faces similar problems to those in sheep rearing, is also involved in the forum thanks to the participation of Capgènes (an organization advising and dealing with goat selection).

This forum, on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 April 2015 at Saint-Affrique, will enable participants to study in depth the genetic choice of these small ruminants, whether for dairy farming or breeding. Maintaining the animals on the land, breeding viability and attracting people to the profession all need economic cost effectiveness which itself most especially requires constant improvement in handling the flocks (breeding techniques, adapting to environment, hardiness…). Sustaining a maximum of breeds of these little ruminants, keeping them on their native land and their development all rely on the technical/economic results of stock farming, as well as on genetic development.

During the ‘Carrefour’ the CIOC will stress the challenge and importance of maintaining the diversity of ‘local’ small ruminant breeds in France and internationally. Insofar as managing and selecting flocks and herds of sheep and goats is concerned in the principal milk or meat producing countries, the CIOC will enable breeders, professionals, scientists, technicians, administrators and elected representatives to become up-to-date with modern techniques and technologies. It will be an outstanding opportunity to share and exchange the information and experiences of different countries, covering not only the management of local breeds but an occasion for participants from all over the world to question and study guidelines in such areas as genetics and selection.

Most particularly it will allow participants to analyze the possibility of intensifying work in connexion with animal population management and protection, the organization of countrywide communal links, and scientific studies of the two species in their natural habitats.
The objective is to increase the level of awareness both politically and technically of the importance of selecting small ruminants which are genetically suited to territorial and local constraints. This will lead to the launch of an information exchange network and international cooperation. At a time of reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, of international initiatives in favour of the maintenance of agricultural biodiversity, or of localized land ownership (the International Year of Family Agriculture), this forum will combine both conviviality and dynamism, with numerous workshops and visits designed to encourage and develop exchanges and meetings.

This occasion will be focused principally on sheep and goat breeding and the networks of the Massif Central to bear witness to the French experience in genetic potential, the savoir-faire and competence born out in management methods, the selection and value enhancement of the flocks and herds of small ruminants.

 How the Carrefour will tackle issues?

  1. Bring together specialists and those working with small ruminants on the ground in a multi-disciplinary framework, mobilizing them to examine an international approach.
  2. Initiate debate, exchange experiences, adding value to existing savoir faire, sharing knowledge on breed selection and types of organization.
  3. Underline the importance of breed diversity : create a synergy between local breeds to encourage global development.
  4. Raise awareness and provide evidence that maintaining small ruminants can be at the root of developing a durable local economy.
  5. Encourage dialogue between breeders, specialists and scientific researchers, so vital in defining and recognizing complementary and common objectives

 Why at Saint Affrique ?

The Carrefour is being held :

  • at the centre of an area essentially devoted to sheep production (the zone of milk production for AOP Roquefort cheese)
  • close to the ‘Causses et Cévennes’, the countryside of Mediterranean agropastoralism classified as a UNESCO world heritage site. Stretching over 302,319 hectares to the south of the Massif Central, it consists of mountainous land scattered with deep valleys, forming the divergent situations of agro-pastoral land and their biophysical environment.
  • at the heart of the Midi Pyrenees, the Languedoc Roussillon and the Auvergne, it is home to 30% of France’s sheep and some 14,000 breeders.
  • on the site of the Lycée de la Cazotte which specializes in education about sheep and whose agricultural land is well suited to this conference.

The UPRA Lacaune experience, its close links with AOP Roquefort and the selfsustaining amenities in the area and on the land, will be definite proof of the interest in and impact of such a development. The CIOC will draw on this successful example, visualizing and analysing it with workshops on the land, helping participants understand the motivating forces, encouraging sharing and exchange of experiences, and to take part in open debate.



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