The genetic integrity of two species of traditional Lithuanian sheep breeds is being protected by agri-environment and climate RDP funds on a certified organic family farm which sells the sheep’s meat and wool and offspring, as well as uses the traditional breed as a unique rural tourism attraction.
Agri-environment climate measures (AECM) from the Rural Development Programmes are available to help farmers conserve traditional livestock breeds. A good practice example in Lithuania is using this rural development support to help conserve the genetic purity and resilience of Lithuanian Black-Headed sheep and Lithuanian Coarse-Wooled sheep.
This AECM contract is provided to the family farm of Kristina and Jūris Milišiūnai from the Biržai District. Conserving sheep breeds can involve more work than managing a conventional flock due to the need to use a pedigree ram from the same genetic properties to breed ewes. These additional inputs and considerations are the basis for the compensation payments provided through the AECM support. The farm receives €187 per animal in the AECM contract. For this the farm agrees to continue the AECM commitment over six years.
580 Lithuanian Black-Headed sheep and five Lithuanian Coarse-Wooled sheep are covered by the Milišiūnai farm’s AECM contract. A closely-controlled breeding programme sustains the genetic integrity of the animals covered by this contract.
The farm maximises economic opportunities from their traditional livestock breeds by using the sheep flock to attract tourists interested in Lithuanian biodiversity and traditional husbandry. Schools and other education bodies can also visit the farm.