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Rodriguez-Ledesma A.,University of Extremadura | Waterhouse A.,Research Hill and Mountain Research Center | Morgan-Davies C.,Research Hill and Mountain Research Center | Bruelisauer F.,SAC Research
Small Ruminant Research | Year: 2011

This paper deals with a new approach of describing Scottish stratified sheep production system using information about the breed/crossbreed structure of 133 flocks surveyed in 2006. The aim was to develop a more accurate tool that could simplify the assessment and description of structural changes of this system. The methodology involves grouping sheep breeds, creating a Flock Type pattern based on the parents breed and the potential outputs that could be carried out in the flocks, and finally stratifying the flocks using a Classification Tree procedure to get an approximation to the traditional hill-upland-lowland description of the system. Scottish stratified sheep production system is described using categorical variables from the survey and a Pearson X2 statistic.The results emphasise that stratified structure is an important part of the Scottish sheep production system, and that stratified management is in turn an important part of the stratified structure. Breed structure, breeding goal and flock replacement changes are explained, and how they are affecting the present system. After comparing the results with other studies, the Scottish sheep production system seems to be moving towards a less dynamic system, with a new balance of breeds, more introductions of Terminal Sire breeds and in which Self Contained breeds and other crossbreeds ewes could compete with Mules. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source


Morgan-Davies C.,SAC Research | Waterhouse T.,SAC Research
Land Use Policy | Year: 2010

This paper sets out to assess stakeholders' preferences for policy priorities for the management of the hill areas of Scotland, using an adaptive conjoint analysis (ACA) method. The method is used to evaluate trade-offs that stakeholders make between policy priorities. A pre-survey was carried out to obtain a large number of defining characteristics of a Scottish hill land system, which were subsequently narrowed down to 20 attributes. A survey was implemented, where a range of stakeholders, who had an interest in the hill and upland areas of Scotland, were asked to select and rank five attributes (out of the 20) that, for them, best described a hill system. They were also asked to describe what constituted both good and poor levels for each of their 5 chosen attributes. A computerised ACA questionnaire was designed, using attributes and levels defined from the previous surveys. Respondents were asked what the policy targets for management choices and options should be in the next 10 years for the Scottish hill areas. Policy simulations were subsequently carried out using the ACA software, to compare stakeholders' actual preferences with seven different policy profiles, designed to reflect current land use issues and orientations for the Scottish hills. Findings from the surveys showed the complexity of defining a hill system with a list of specific attributes. The ACA demonstrated that, despite differences between interest group of respondents, livestock was seen to be the most important attribute of a hill system that future policies should target. A local economy based on activities linked to the land was also highly preferred. Differences between respondents reinforced the fact that different interest groups, with different agendas, have views in conflict with others on certain issues. These emphasised how difficult it can be for policy makers to propose rural, environmental and land use policies that suit everybody. The policy simulation showed that policy profiles focussed on biodiversity and tourism matched the preferences of stakeholders more than policy profiles for forestry and wild land. This demonstrated that trade-offs are necessary when formulating policies and that policy profiles based on a mixture of objectives are preferable to more singular ones. Some of the shortcomings of the methodology, particularly regarding the composition of respondents, are discussed. We conclude by suggesting that the ACA could be a useful tool to explore and evaluate future land use policies, especially in the context of a singular issue or conflict. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source


Morgan-Davies C.,SAC Research | Waterhouse T.,SAC Research | Wilson R.,University of Edinburgh
Small Ruminant Research | Year: 2012

In North-western Europe, most of the land mass is classified as Less Favoured Area (LFA) under European designation and hill farms in these areas are a major contributor to the rural industry. Scotland alone is no different, as its rural land-based industry is fragile and has been dependent for many decades on high and continued levels of support payments. With recent agricultural policy reforms and changes in support for hill farmers, the future of these farming businesses is uncertain, and one purpose of this paper is to understand how they have already responded and might respond to further policy changes. This is not only important for the land use economy but also for the wider Scottish rural community and environment. Data from three regions, typical of hill farming areas in mainland Scotland, was collated in 2007; firstly from a postal survey with 47 respondents, followed by 30 face-to-face on-farm interviews. Farmers were asked to consider three time periods (2001-2005; 2005-2007; 2008-2013) and to detail any changes they had made, or planned to make, in their management and livestock numbers. During the interviews, additional questions regarding their motivations, drive and constraints were also asked. Fifty-three percent of the farmers surveyed had made major management changes in 2001-2005; 49% made changes in 2005-2007 and 53% projected to do so in 2008-2013. The main reported change was a decrease in animal numbers, due to economic factors, such as costs of labour and feed, and loss of subsidies. Multivariate analysis (Principal Coordinate and Cluster Analysis) of the results identified 3 clusters of farmers. Subsequent ANOVA and Chi-square analyses on the clusters showed that age, education, impact on farm labour, and impacts of neighbouring farms and their livestock reductions, were the most important factors that separated these clusters. Cluster 1 (adaptive farmers) broadly represented extensive sheep farms with farmers, who could and did diversify their income; they were also older and had the highest level of education. It was found that their animal management was greatly influenced by their neighbours' decisions. Cluster 2 (focused farmers) was reflective of relatively more intensive sheep and beef farms, with no direct interest in farm diversification. Cluster 3 (resource constrained farmers) comprised very large extensive sheep and beef farms, which were also limited by their resources. Most 'adaptive' and 'focused' farmers planned to further modify their management in 2008-2013.Declining stock numbers in the study farms were consistent with trends in agricultural census data following the latest CAP reforms. However, the typology gave more insight of the differing farmers' motivation and constraints when faced with reforms; this indicated that policy development should rely on multi-faceted data sources. The interdependency and fragility of these varied hill systems was highlighted by this study, pointing out the value of more targeted delivery of policy mechanisms to reflect such diversity. This is not unique to Scotland and reflects similar experiences elsewhere in Europe's marginal agricultural areas. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source

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