ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Protecting a breed of sheep is simple when there is demand for its breed traits, but new market options are often hard to find. In general, grazing sheep are able to take over some viticultural work. Here, we address a new and promising integrated crop-livestock system that involves the integration of sheep in the vineyard during the growing season. Using sheep in a vineyard entails opportunities but also risks, such as the current lack of information, specifically in relation to breed traits. In our survey, we evaluated 26 breeds for their suitability for grazing as long as possible in Central European vineyards during the growing season. First, the breed traits required were identified. Then, 94 flock book breeders were interviewed about specific breed traits. The height of a sheep’s muzzle is particularly important for assessing the suitability of a breed, as it defines the potential impact on the foliage area during the growing season. To determine the height of the muzzle, 179 flock book animals were measured. We found that the most important breeding objective for a new breed of sheep is the inability to stand on two legs. Adult animals of the breed Shropshire, and among these especially the shorter-legged Danish type, and Southdown, show a widespread inability to stand on two legs. Ouessant sheep are able to do so, yet are suitable with some limitations. Due to their extraordinarily small size, their reach is limited, as is their grazing performance. Thus, three of the 26 breeds studied here seem suitable for use in the most widespread vine training systems of Central Europe during the growing season. Targeted breeding could further improve the suitability of sheep for viticulture. Our findings could help to protect breeds and breed traits.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Citation: Conrad, L.; Hörl, J.; Henke,
M.; Luick, R.; Schoof, N. Sheep in the
Vineyard: Suitability of Different
Breeds and Potential Breeding
Objectives. Animals 2022,12, 2575.
https://doi.org/10.3390/
ani12192575
Academic Editors: Daniel Pierre Petit
and Asmae Kandoussi
Received: 28 August 2022
Accepted: 23 September 2022
Published: 27 September 2022
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affil-
iations.
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
animals
Article
Sheep in the Vineyard: Suitability of Different Breeds and
Potential Breeding Objectives
Lucas Conrad 1, Jakob Hörl 2, Maverick Henke 2, Rainer Luick 2and Nicolas Schoof 3, *
1Chair of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
2Chair of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg,
72108 Rottenburg, Germany
3Chair of Site Classification and Vegetation Sciences, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
*Correspondence: nicolas.schoof@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de
The results of the study were initially written in German and published in the journal Berichte über
Landwirtschaft and aimed at practitioners. Here it is adapted to an international and scientific readership.
Simple Summary:
There is a large number of sheep breeds worldwide. Today, many of them are
endangered, because there are very little market demands for the majority of breeds. The integration
of sheep in viticultural systems offers a promising option to put sheep and unique breed characteristics
in value. However, it is unknown which characteristics and breeds are best suited for this purpose.
The lack of information leads to problems in the implementation of this so-called new integrated
crop-livestock system. In our research, we addressed this challenge. We studied 26 breeds and tested
their suitability for integration into common vineyards of Central Europe. Two breeds fulfill the
most important requirement. Southdown and Shropshire, for the latter especially, the sheep of the
shorter legged Danish type seem to be unable to stand on two legs. Their muzzle heights stay within
a tolerable range without harming the foliage area of vines. Therefore, adult animals of both breeds
seem suitable to take over important viticultural tasks during the growing season. A third breed, the
Ouessant sheep, is suitable with some limitations.
Abstract:
Protecting a breed of sheep is simple when there is demand for its breed traits, but new
market options are often hard to find. In general, grazing sheep are able to take over some viticultural
work. Here, we address a new and promising integrated crop-livestock system that involves the
integration of sheep in the vineyard during the growing season. Using sheep in a vineyard entails
opportunities but also risks, such as the current lack of information, specifically in relation to breed
traits. In our survey, we evaluated 26 breeds for their suitability for grazing as long as possible
in Central European vineyards during the growing season. First, the breed traits required were
identified. Then, 94 flock book breeders were interviewed about specific breed traits. The height
of a sheep’s muzzle is particularly important for assessing the suitability of a breed, as it defines
the potential impact on the foliage area during the growing season. To determine the height of the
muzzle, 179 flock book animals were measured. We found that the most important breeding objective
for a new breed of sheep is the inability to stand on two legs. Adult animals of the breed Shropshire,
and among these especially the shorter-legged Danish type, and Southdown, show a widespread
inability to stand on two legs. Ouessant sheep are able to do so, yet are suitable with some limitations.
Due to their extraordinarily small size, their reach is limited, as is their grazing performance. Thus,
three of the 26 breeds studied here seem suitable for use in the most widespread vine training systems
of Central Europe during the growing season. Targeted breeding could further improve the suitability
of sheep for viticulture. Our findings could help to protect breeds and breed traits.
Keywords:
sheep breeding; viticulture; sustainable intensification; integrated crop-livestock
system; ICLS
Animals 2022,12, 2575. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12192575 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/animals
Animals 2022,12, 2575 2 of 17
1. Introduction
Worldwide, more and more livestock breeds are becoming extinct. This can be at-
tributed to one decisive cause: demand for specific breed traits is declining in globalized
agricultural markets and in modern agriculture. With this, options for adaptation to rapidly
changing environmental conditions and land use are lost. The best solution would be to
generate a corresponding demand for more livestock breeds; however, this is not
easy [13]
.
The use of sheep to graze in vineyards during the growing season is a new form of in-
tegrated crop-livestock system (ICLS; [
4
]) that has hitherto scarcely been explored [
5
]. It
has interesting potential in terms of agro-ecological system services [
6
10
], and it seems
possible that specific requirements for breed traits could help to expand the market for
sheep breeds or rare breed traits.
A recent survey of German- and French-speaking winegrowers who deploy sheep in
their vineyards identified positive experiences, as well as limitations and problems of sheep
deployment. Potential benefits and opportunities include: (1) higher land use efficiency
through additional agricultural production (meat, wool); (2) reduction of external inputs;
(3) stronger orientation towards nutrient cycles including potentially positive effects on
ecosystem services; and (4) image enhancement for the winegrower with new marketing
options [
10
,
11
]. Whether and to what extent these presumed potentials are activated
surely depends on various influencing factors. Such factors are, for example, the duration
of grazing, the grazing period, the accompanying vegetation or a possible additional
tillage [12,13].
Sheep can support or partially replace certain labor-intensive viticultural tasks. These
include: (1) weed management, including in-row floor management; (2) deterring wild ani-
mals that are problematic from a viticultural point of view (e.g., deer, rabbits); (3) removal
of sucker shoots; and (4) removal of undesirable leaves from the grape zone to ensure
grape and wine quality (called leaf plucking, Figure 1). This work is otherwise carried out
mechanically, chemically or manually. The risks and disadvantages of deploying sheep
in the vineyard arise: (1) from the time required to care for the animals; (2) from a nec-
essary change in operational processes, which must necessarily be more oriented to the
behavior of the animals; and (3) from the lack of information available hitherto. The latter
encompasses, amongst others, veterinary issues and the lack of predictability regarding
pasture management and its correlative effects on the foliage area of the vines. For example,
research has yet to determine the height which different sheep breeds can reach when
grazing and the minimum or optimal height at which the top of vine stems and leading- or
fruit shoots should be located [
10
,
11
]. Niles et al. [
6
] show comparable results in a study
conducted in New Zealand. The authors emphasize the positive business potential, which
Jackson [
5
] describes more critically in his study. The different evaluation seems to be
mainly conditioned by different implementation forms of the new ICLS. A further issue is
that sheep in viticulture seem to require specific animal breed traits, which have to date
rarely been relevant in breeding [10].
While today grazing with sheep can be observed more frequently in the winegrowing
areas outside the growing season [
9
,
12
], the success of grazing during the growing season
relies on various conditions and requires relevant know-how. However, there is currently a
high level of interest in this model of land use. An important finding is that in the Guyot
vine training system (Figure 1), which is the predominant form of vine training system in
Central Europe, the possibilities of using sheep are mostly determined by the choice of
breed. In contrast, vine training systems with spur pruning, minimal pruning or pergola
training tend to give more options in breed selection. These training systems are quite rare
in Central Europe and even here certain breeds are more suitable than others [10,11,14].
Sheep breeding was historically oriented to the respective regionally varying loca-
tional and economic requirements. Breeding resulted in significant phenotypic differences
between breeds. We are not aware of any case in which breeding has been specifically
targeted for use in modern permanent crop.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 3 of 17
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3 of 17
Since many countries do not keep lists of their autochthonous breeds, it can only be
estimated how many sheep breeds there are worldwide. According to an overview by
Oklahoma State University, about 200 breeds can be clearly distinguished [15]. A German
association for ancient breeds estimates that there are about 600 breeds worldwide [16],
and some sources estimate that there may even be 1000 breeds globally [17].
Figure 1. Shropshire sheep clearing the grape zone (leaf plucking) in the widely used Guyot vine
training system. Here, a trellis (espalier) system is used to anchor the foliage area. The lowest wire
is decisive for the height of the grape zone.
The low to non-existent economic value of wool and the existing need for annual
shearing have encouraged breeding efforts towards natural wool shedding [18]. Breed-
specific traits are also present in behavior. For example, Shropshire sheep do not browse
conifers and can therefore be used in Christmas tree plantations for weed management.
This aversion to conifers is not known to occur in any other breed. Breeding not only
serves the conservation of existing sheep breeds; new breeding objectives can help to open
up new paths for sheep deployment [6]. Furthermore, even within a breed it is possible to
categorize different types that show distinct expressions. This is again the case for the
Shropshire breed, where historically a Danish type has emerged with significantly shorter
legs compared to the original breeding population (here the latter is simply called English
type; recently, the types are becoming more and more interbred in the flocks of many
hobby- and livestock farmers.
In view of the differences in breeds and breeding objectives described above, it is
hardly surprising that the suitability of breeds for use in viticulture should be assessed in
a differentiated way. The following example shows that sheep breeds display very pro-
nounced differences: ewes of the smallest sheep breed in the world, the Ouessant (Figure
2), weigh only 1316 kg [19]; while ewes of the breed Berrichon du Cher can reach up to
100 kg [20]. The question of the suitability of specific breeds applies in particular to the
widely used Guyot vine training system. The leaves of the vine foliage are often at or
below the height reachable by the muzzle of many breeds of sheep. This issue is especially
relevant when the animals are able to rise up on their hind legs to reach higher leaves after
having eaten the lower ones. The German pioneers of the use of sheep in the vineyard
mainly deploy the Ouessant breed, sometimes called dwarf sheep. However, larger
breeds such as German Heaths, Shropshire, Cameroon or Suffolk are also used in individ-
ual cases [10,11].
Figure 1.
Shropshire sheep clearing the grape zone (leaf plucking) in the widely used Guyot vine
training system. Here, a trellis (espalier) system is used to anchor the foliage area. The lowest wire is
decisive for the height of the grape zone.
Since many countries do not keep lists of their autochthonous breeds, it can only be
estimated how many sheep breeds there are worldwide. According to an overview by
Oklahoma State University, about 200 breeds can be clearly distinguished [
15
]. A German
association for ancient breeds estimates that there are about 600 breeds worldwide [
16
],
and some sources estimate that there may even be 1000 breeds globally [17].
The low to non-existent economic value of wool and the existing need for annual
shearing have encouraged breeding efforts towards natural wool shedding [
18
]. Breed-
specific traits are also present in behavior. For example, Shropshire sheep do not browse
conifers and can therefore be used in Christmas tree plantations for weed management.
This aversion to conifers is not known to occur in any other breed. Breeding not only serves
the conservation of existing sheep breeds; new breeding objectives can help to open up
new paths for sheep deployment [
6
]. Furthermore, even within a breed it is possible to
categorize different types that show distinct expressions. This is again the case for the
Shropshire breed, where historically a Danish type has emerged with significantly shorter
legs compared to the original breeding population (here the latter is simply called English
type; recently, the types are becoming more and more interbred in the flocks of many hobby-
and livestock farmers).
In view of the differences in breeds and breeding objectives described above, it is
hardly surprising that the suitability of breeds for use in viticulture should be assessed
in a differentiated way. The following example shows that sheep breeds display very
pronounced differences: ewes of the smallest sheep breed in the world, the Ouessant
(Figure 2), weigh only 13–16 kg [
19
]; while ewes of the breed Berrichon du Cher can reach
up to 100 kg [
20
]. The question of the suitability of specific breeds applies in particular
to the widely used Guyot vine training system. The leaves of the vine foliage are often
at or below the height reachable by the muzzle of many breeds of sheep. This issue is
especially relevant when the animals are able to rise up on their hind legs to reach higher
leaves after having eaten the lower ones. The German pioneers of the use of sheep in the
vineyard mainly deploy the Ouessant breed, sometimes called dwarf sheep. However,
larger breeds such as German Heaths, Shropshire, Cameroon or Suffolk are also used in
individual cases [10,11].
Animals 2022,12, 2575 4 of 17
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 17
Figure 2. Ouessant sheep grazing in a vineyard with Guyot pruning (see above). In this viticultural
system the browsing-sensitive (critical) phases of the growing season comprise the time from
budding till the time berries reach groat-size and then from the veraison (start of the ripening
of the grapes) through to harvest time. To avoid damage, sheep should not be allowed to graze
vineyards during these critical phases. For grazing outside of the two described critical phases, some
breeds seem much more suitable than others [10].
In order to minimize existing viticultural risks in the deployment of sheep and to
exploit potentials, a sheep breed should meet criteria that explicitly correspond to viticul-
tural requirements. First, it is necessary to identify these requirements and second, to an-
alyze breed-typical traits for their suitability [21]. In this way, suitable breeds (or types of
within breeds) can be distinguished from less suitable ones. In addition, a breeding objec-
tive for husbandry or parameters for breeding new (not yet existing) sheep breeds can be
defined. Identifying these requirements, including the suitability assessment of different
sheep breeds, was the research objective of the present study. The study is semi-quantita-
tive. Its aim was not to make definitive statements, but to give valid recommendations,
which will have to be further verified in the complex systems of application.
The questions we pursued in our study were:
1. Are there breed characteristics that are necessary or desirable for grazing Central Eu-
ropean viticultural systems during the growing season? If so, what are they?
2. Which breeds would be most suitable on the basis of the recommendations made in
answer to 1?
2. Materials and Methods
Due to the variety of grapevine training forms and forms of sheep husbandry, nu-
merous ways of applying the ICLS “sheep in the vineyardare conceivable. It was there-
fore necessary to narrow down the parameters for the research objective. The focus of the
search for (particularly) suitable sheep breeds and traits is on their suitability for grazing
as long as possible during the growing season, and here specifically on the predictability
of the effects regarding the amount of defoliation of plants in the Guyot vine training sys-
tem (first wire defining the grape zone at ~90105 cm). In most cases this premise also
covers the suitability for use in minimal pruning and top-wire cordon vine training sys-
tems. In the latter, grazing is less of a challenge, because the grape zone is higher. In prac-
tice, a potential deployment of sheep is limited by: (1) the developmental stages of the
Figure 2. Ouessant sheep grazing in a vineyard with Guyot pruning (see above). In this viticultural
system the browsing-sensitive (critical) phases of the growing season comprise the time from budding
till the time berries reach groat-size and then from the veraison (start of the ripening of the grapes)
through to harvest time. To avoid damage, sheep should not be allowed to graze vineyards during
these critical phases. For grazing outside of the two described critical phases, some breeds seem
much more suitable than others [10].
In order to minimize existing viticultural risks in the deployment of sheep and to ex-
ploit potentials, a sheep breed should meet criteria that explicitly correspond to viticultural
requirements. First, it is necessary to identify these requirements and second, to analyze
breed-typical traits for their suitability [
21
]. In this way, suitable breeds (or types of within
breeds) can be distinguished from less suitable ones. In addition, a breeding objective for
husbandry or parameters for breeding new (not yet existing) sheep breeds can be defined.
Identifying these requirements, including the suitability assessment of different sheep
breeds, was the research objective of the present study. The study is semi-quantitative. Its
aim was not to make definitive statements, but to give valid recommendations, which will
have to be further verified in the complex systems of application.
The questions we pursued in our study were:
1.
Are there breed characteristics that are necessary or desirable for grazing Central
European viticultural systems during the growing season? If so, what are they?
2.
Which breeds would be most suitable on the basis of the recommendations made in
answer to 1?
2. Materials and Methods
Due to the variety of grapevine training forms and forms of sheep husbandry, numer-
ous ways of applying the ICLS “sheep in the vineyard” are conceivable. It was therefore
necessary to narrow down the parameters for the research objective. The focus of the search
for (particularly) suitable sheep breeds and traits is on their suitability for grazing as long
as possible during the growing season, and here specifically on the predictability of the
effects regarding the amount of defoliation of plants in the Guyot vine training system (first
wire defining the grape zone at ~90–105 cm). In most cases this premise also covers the
suitability for use in minimal pruning and top-wire cordon vine training systems. In the
latter, grazing is less of a challenge, because the grape zone is higher. In practice, a potential
deployment of sheep is limited by: (1) the developmental stages of the vine (sheep only
avoid berries with a certain acidity); (2) the use of plant protection products; and (3) the
Animals 2022,12, 2575 5 of 17
details of the vine training (= height of the cane, i.e., the lowest wire, as well as the height
of the vine stem) [10].
At a meeting in December 2019 with pioneers of the new ICLS, as well as interested
winemakers (31 participants), viticulturally desirable sheep breed characteristics were
first identified. We used expert-interviews and discussions here [
22
]. Based on these
findings, a literature- and expert-supported pre-selection of potentially suitable breeds was
made, taking into account their actual availability in Germany. In order to supplement
or verify the spectrum of sheep breeds that could principally be considered, the results of
the only scientific study available to date for Central Europe on the implementation of the
ICLS were used. This study identifies sheep breeds that are already used in vineyards in
Central Europe [11].
The surveys conducted for the study were explicitly for adult females, as they are in
principle more suitable than rams or castrates for vineyards. Females have the following
advantages: (1) they can be used for offspring; (2) males cause additional costs due to the
potential need for castration; and (3) in most sheep breeds, females are hornless, which
simplifies management and control [
23
]. In practice, sexually mature rams will probably
only be present individually or of small numbers in a flock, although ram flocks in the
vineyard are also conceivable in principle.
Initially, 26 breeds were included in the pre-selection. The multipurpose breeds include
Alpine Stone Sheep, Braunes Haarschaf *, Cikta Sheep, German Grey Heath, Herdwick,
Bovec Sheep, Montafon Stone Sheep, Ouessant, Pomeranian Coarsewool Sheep, Scottish
Blackface, Skudde, Soay Sheep *, Racka, Waldschaf, Wallachian, Roux du Valais, White
Horned Heath and White Polled Heath. For meat sheep breeds, they were Barbados
Blackbelly*, Berrichon du Cher, Charmoise, Charollaise, Dorper, Cameroon Sheep *, Olde
English “Babydoll” Southdown, Shropshire (English and Danish type), and Southdown
(breeds marked with * are hair sheep breeds [11]).
Breed-specific characteristics that are explicitly interesting for use in the Guyot vine
training system are not always mentioned in the existing breeding specifications and
are partly undocumented in the literature. Flock book breeding, for example, provides
specifications for a breed-specific permissible (size) range of wither height. However, it is
the height of the muzzle that is decisive for viticulture. Though this normally correlates
anatomically with the wither, the exact correlation is unknown. In addition, flock book
breeding does not provide any guidelines for bipedal ability or inability, which many
breeds are demonstrably capable of, contrary to descriptions [
24
]. The ability to stand
bipedally is crucial for the absolute grazing height and the predictability of the sheep’s
effect on the vine foliage area and thus influences the potential grazing time. The risk
of undesirably high defoliation or damage to shoots and panicles increases with bipedal
ability and the correspondingly raised height of the muzzle [10].
For a suitability assessment, therefore, these desired breed traits first had to be
recorded. For our survey, contacts with flock book breeders were established. Flock
book breeders subject their breeding to defined breeding standards. Their sheep are there-
fore representative for the breed. Contacts were identified via the Schäfereikalender 2020”,
an address book of the German breeding associations [
25
], or via websites of the regional
sheep breeding associations [
26
]. Data on the relevant breed traits were collected using
two methods:
1.
Data collection on the animal: measurements of the height of the sheep’s muzzle
from the ground, which is particularly relevant for viticulture (for explanation see
also results section), were in each case carried out with the respective breeds standing
still on level ground. Wither height, the height of the muzzle with stretched neck
and the head pointing upwards, as well as the maximum height of the muzzle in
two-legged stance (if the breed is capable of this—see below) were recorded. For
the latter, sheep were manually lifted onto their hind legs. An attempt was always
made to imitate the natural posture of the sheep (exemplarily Figure 3). Since this
is not absolutely possible, a “range of variation” should be considered in practice.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 6 of 17
Based on the trials, +/
10 cm was defined as a potential variation for the maximum
grazing height. Measurements were carried out at 25 farms on a total of 19 sheep
breeds and 179 sheep. The number of sheep measured per breed was dictated by
the current availability and varied between four and 20 sheep. We continued to
distinguish within the Shropshire breed between the Danish and English type, since
the anatomical differences in terms of leg length can be large. We assumed that this
could affect the ability to stand bipedally (Table 1). For the following pre-selected
breeds, no sheep could be obtained: Cikta, Montafoner Stone, Scottish Blackface, Soay,
Recka, Wallachian and Roux du Valais.
2.
In addition to these measurements, robustness, manageability and bipedal ability
were recorded as other relevant characteristics via standardized questions to the
breeders. A total of 94 breeders were interviewed. The interviews were recorded.
For 23 breeders the interview was conducted on site, for 71 breeders, by telephone.
The question regarding robustness asked specifically about: (1) resistance to weather
conditions; (2) hoof constitution; and (3) fertility. The positive answers were marked
with “+”. For the Cikta sheep and the Montafon Stone sheep, no surveys could be
conducted (Table 2).
Table 1. Information on the procedure for determining the grazing height.
Breed
Number of Sites at Which
Measurements Were
Carried out
Number of Sheep
Measured
Own
Measurement or
Measurement by Breeders?
Alpine Stone Sheep 1 15 Own
Barbados Blackbelly 1 5 Own
Berrichon du Cher 2 8 Both
Braunes Haarschaf 1 5 Own
Charmoise 1 5 Own
Charollais 1 8 Own
Dorper 1 7 Own
German Grey Heath 2 12 Own
Herdwick 1 8 Own
Cameroon Sheep 1 4 Breeder
Bovec Sheep 3 20 Own
Olde English
“Babydoll“
Southdown
1 5 Own
Ouessant 2 14 Own
Pomerian
Coarsewool Sheep 2 10 Own
Shropshire, Danish
type 2 5 Own
Shropshire, English
type 3 11 Own
Skudde 1 11 Own
Southdown 2 12 Both
Waldschaf 1 6 Own
White Horned
Heath 1 4 Own
White Polled Heath 1 4 Own
Animals 2022,12, 2575 7 of 17
Table 2.
The number of surveys of breeders conducted per sheep breed to identify breed-specific
suitability for deployment in the vineyard in growing season.
Number of Surveys
Conducted Among
Breeders
Breed
none Cikta Sheep, Montafoner Stone Sheep
1
Charmoise, Olde English “Babydoll” Southdown, Roux du Valais
2 Southdown
3 Herdwick, Racka
4 Barbados Blackbelly, Scottish Blackface
5
Alpine Stone, Berrichon du Cher, Braunes Haarschaf, Charollais,
Dorper, German Grey Heath, Cameroon, Bovec, Ouessant,
Pomeranian Coarsewool, Shropshire, Skudde, Soay, Wallachian,
Waldschaf, White Horned, White Polled Heath
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 17
possible, a “range of variation” should be considered in practice. Based on the trials,
+/ 10 cm was defined as a potential variation for the maximum grazing height. Meas-
urements were carried out at 25 farms on a total of 19 sheep breeds and 179 sheep.
The number of sheep measured per breed was dictated by the current availability
and varied between four and 20 sheep. We continued to distinguish within the Shrop-
shire breed between the Danish and English type, since the anatomical differences in
terms of leg length can be large. We assumed that this could affect the ability to stand
bipedally (Table 1). For the following pre-selected breeds, no sheep could be ob-
tained: Cikta, Montafoner Stone, Scottish Blackface, Soay, Recka, Wallachian and
Roux du Valais.
2. In addition to these measurements, robustness, manageability and bipedal ability
were recorded as other relevant characteristics via standardized questions to the
breeders. A total of 94 breeders were interviewed. The interviews were recorded. For
23 breeders the interview was conducted on site, for 71 breeders, by telephone. The
question regarding robustness asked specifically about: (1) resistance to weather con-
ditions; (2) hoof constitution; and (3) fertility. The positive answers were marked with
“+”. For the Cikta sheep and the Montafon Stone sheep, no surveys could be con-
ducted (Table 2).
Figure 3. Exemplary measurement of: (a) max. grazing height in four-legged stance; (b) wither
height; and (c) max. grazing height in two-legged stance of a Shropshire.
Table 1. Information on the procedure for determining the grazing height.
Breed
Number of Sites at
Which
Measurements
Were Carried out
Number of
Sheep Measured
Own
Measurement or
Measurement by
Breeders?
Alpine Stone Sheep 1 15 Own
Barbados Blackbelly 1 5 Own
Berrichon du Cher 2 8 Both
Braunes Haarschaf 1 5 Own
Charmoise 1 5 Own
Charollais 1 8 Own
Dorper 1 7 Own
German Grey Heath 2 12 Own
Figure 3.
Exemplary measurement of: (
a
) max. grazing height in four-legged stance; (
b
) wither
height; and (c) max. grazing height in two-legged stance of a Shropshire.
In order to estimate the expected grazing performance (time in which an area is grazed)
as a potential breeding or suitability characteristic, a breed-specific calculation of livestock
units (LU) was carried out. In Appendix II, Article 9 (1), (2) of the EU’s Commission
Implementing Regulation No. 2016/669, 0.15 LU are used for one sheep. Assuming that
this is a female Merino (the most common breed in Central Europe) with an assumed
weight of 85 kg, a specific LU for each breed can be derived. For derivation, the mean value
of the weight range tolerated in breeding for the respective breed was correlated with the
above-mentioned EU estimate.
A post-disciplinary research approach was used for the study [
27
]. The authors
themselves run 30–50 animals of the breeds Shropshire (Danish and English type as well
as their crossbreeds) and Ouessant. The animals are used during the growing season and
non-growing season in vineyards with the Guyot system, and in minimal pruning and top
wire cordon training systems (Figure 4). The vineyards are located in Freiburg, Germany.
The experience acquired over three years helps to better describe, evaluate and classify the
results of the study.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 8 of 17
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 17
Figure 4. Top-wire cordon system. This vine training system is rather uncommon in Central Europe.
It would be optimal for grazing because the grape zone is very high (>140 cm). In our study, we
focused on a viticultural system that is more widespread. In this common system (see Figures 1 and
2), the browsing-sensitive phases of the growing season last from several weeks to a few months,
depending on the grape variety. In such phases, grazing, even with breeds that are suitable in prin-
ciple, is only possible if the flowers and grapes are protected from browsing (e.g., with an electric
wire).
3. Results
3.1. Beneficial Phenotypic Traits
The participants of the expert workshop agreed that there are viticulturally desired
breed traits. These are of particular importance for the new ICLS described above. Partic-
ipants considered the following traits to be favorable (ranked in descending order of im-
portance):
1. Bipedal ability: This feature limits the potential grazing height on the foliage area and
therefore favors the potential deployment during the growing season in the Guyot
system. For sheep without bipedal ability, the effect of grazing is more predictable
and the components of the system (especially the height of the lowest wire and graz-
ing time) can be adjusted with predictable results (nevertheless, there are two critical
phases, Figure 2). In other vine training systems, this feature may be less important,
but it is by no means insignificant [10]. A two-legged stand would be only tolerable
if the muzzle of the sheep remains sufficiently low.
2. Robustness: This factor reduces demands on the know-how of the owner, the amount
of work and potential veterinary costs, and is generally beneficial to animal welfare.
It is therefore a common breeding objective for all breeds. In addition, the animals
should be as insensitive as possible to pesticides applied in vineyards. For example,
copper, which is used specifically in organic farming, brings a potential risk of
chronic poisoning to sheep. Copper sensitivity is breed-specific, however, within cer-
tain limits [28]. This last requirement was not pursued here, but initial research find-
ings are available on the topic [9]—the toxicity of other pesticides is insufficiently
known in many cases.
3. Manageability: Docile, manageable animals simplify the work during a change of
pasture when a sheepdog cannot be used. In vineyards where the winegrower is also
the shepherd, the sheeps docility is more important than in the case of professional
shepherds. The latter usually have herding dogs [29], which winegrowers tend not
Figure 4.
Top-wire cordon system. This vine training system is rather uncommon in Central Europe. It
would be optimal for grazing because the grape zone is very high (>140 cm). In our study, we focused
on a viticultural system that is more widespread. In this common system (
see Figures 1and 2
), the
browsing-sensitive phases of the growing season last from several weeks to a few months, depending
on the grape variety. In such phases, grazing, even with breeds that are suitable in principle, is only
possible if the flowers and grapes are protected from browsing (e.g., with an electric wire).
3. Results
3.1. Beneficial Phenotypic Traits
The participants of the expert workshop agreed that there are viticulturally desired
breed traits. These are of particular importance for the new ICLS described above. Par-
ticipants considered the following traits to be favorable (ranked in descending order of
importance):
1.
Bipedal ability: This feature limits the potential grazing height on the foliage area and
therefore favors the potential deployment during the growing season in the Guyot
system. For sheep without bipedal ability, the effect of grazing is more predictable and
the components of the system (especially the height of the lowest wire and grazing
time) can be adjusted with predictable results (nevertheless, there are two critical
phases, Figure 2). In other vine training systems, this feature may be less important,
but it is by no means insignificant [
10
]. A two-legged stand would be only tolerable if
the muzzle of the sheep remains sufficiently low.
2.
Robustness: This factor reduces demands on the know-how of the owner, the amount
of work and potential veterinary costs, and is generally beneficial to animal welfare.
It is therefore a common breeding objective for all breeds. In addition, the animals
should be as insensitive as possible to pesticides applied in vineyards. For example,
copper, which is used specifically in organic farming, brings a potential risk of chronic
poisoning to sheep. Copper sensitivity is breed-specific, however, within certain
limits [
28
]. This last requirement was not pursued here, but initial research findings
are available on the topic [
9
]—the toxicity of other pesticides is insufficiently known
in many cases.
3.
Manageability: Docile, manageable animals simplify the work during a change of
pasture when a sheepdog cannot be used. In vineyards where the winegrower is also
the shepherd, the sheep’s docility is more important than in the case of professional
shepherds. The latter usually have herding dogs [
29
], which winegrowers tend not to
Animals 2022,12, 2575 9 of 17
keep. Moving the animals without a herding dog is more or less easy depending on
the breed.
4.
Natural wool-shedding: The need to save time and labor is the reason for dispensing
with sheep-shearing. In any case, the cost of shearing today often exceeds the proceeds
from the sale of wool [18].
5.
Grazing performance: To be determined approximately via the average weight of
a breed according to breeding specifications. Axiom: the higher the weight, the
higher the grazing performance, the fewer animals are needed for a comparable area.
Fewer animals, in turn, correlate with savings in labor, time and monetary costs for
animal management.
The participants of the event unanimously confirmed the above-listed points. The
participants emphasized that, depending on the farm and specific viticultural training
system in use, the importance of individual characteristics can of course be more or less
important. For example, manageability is less important for a farm that cooperates with
a shepherd who keeps sheepdogs. In the discussion it was noted that the list and the
weighting reflect the current status for the new ICLS described above. It could change, for
example, if viticultural training systems change widely.
3.2. Results of Measurements and Survey of Breeders
Two of the sheep breeds studied (Southdown and Shropshire) are, according to breed-
ers, predominantly incapable of standing bipedally. However, in the case of the Shropshire
breed, this seems to apply more to the compact and shorter-legged Danish type. Within
the English type, especially when of flock book breed origin, there is a higher chance that
some individuals may be capable of a two-legged stance. Ouessants are predominantly
capable of such a stance, but the breed is much smaller than the other breeds studied; even
when standing on two legs, the muzzle height of the Ouessants remains below that of other
breeds in the four-legged stance (Figure 5). Ouessants are therefore suitable in principle for
use in the Guyot vine training system.
Table 3. Results of the survey of phenotypic traits.
Breed N
Muzzle Height TLS [cm] Muzzle Height FLS [cm] Manageability NWS LU
Min Max Mean Min Max Mean
Alpine Stone Sheep 15 155 158 157 104 110 108 + No 0.095
Barbados Blackbelly 5 160 162 161 107 114 112 + Yes 0.095
Berrichon du Cher 8 154 170 164 100 117 109 No 0.154
Braunes Haarschaf 5 161 165 163 118 121 120 + Yes 0.127
Charmoise 6 135 142 139 88 96 92 No 0.1
Charollais 8 158 162 160 111 118 114 No 0.172
Ciktaschaf N/A No 0.086
Dorper 7 148 151 150 107 111 109 No 0.136
German Grey Heath 12 155 161 157 95 106 98 No 0.09
Herdwick 8 128 140 135 64 104 100 + No 0.081
Cameroon Sheep 4 107 155 146 97 115 107 Yes 0.077
Bovec Sheep 20 107 170 161 104 120 109 + No 0.09
Montafoner Steinschaf N/A No 0.081
Olde English “Babydoll”
Southdown 5 120 130 126 74 80 76 + No N/A
Ouessant 14 90 107 98 57 77 67 indifferent No 0.026
Pomerian Coarsewool
Sheep 10 160 178 168 98 120 105 + No 0.109
Scottish Blackface N/A indifferent No 0.095
Animals 2022,12, 2575 10 of 17
Table 3. Cont.
Breed N
Muzzle Height TLS [cm] Muzzle Height FLS [cm] Manageability NWS LU
Min Max Mean Min Max Mean
Shropshire
Danish type 5 unable 95 109 106 +No 0.136
English type 16 154 154 154 102 109 107
Skudde 11 119 134 127 79 90 84 No 0.063
Soayschaf NA Yes 0.045
Southdown 12 unable 90 106 97 + No 0.127
Racka N/A No 0.077
Walachenschaf N/A No 0.087
Waldschaf 6 156 160 158 104 115 112 No 0.086
Roux du Valais N/A + No 0.113
White Horned Heath 4 144 146 145 103 103 103 No 0.081
White Polled Heath 4 145 153 149 98 99 99 No 0.081
Robustness reflects the breeders’ assessment of resistance to weather conditions, hoof constitution and fertility.
Mean and median differ by a maximum of 1 cm. Taking into account individual anatomical differences, an
interpretation of the max. height of the muzzle must recognize additional height spans: for the two-legged
stance approx. +/
10 cm and for the four-legged stance approx. +/
5 cm. LU = livestock unit of the average
weight of an ewe (conversion of 85 kg is 0.15 LU); N = number of sheep measured; N/A = not available;
NWS = natural wool shedding
; TLS = two-legged stance; FLS = four-legged stance; + = positive;
= negative;
robustness to disease was rated positively across all breeds.
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 17
Montafoner Steinschaf N/A No 0.081
Olde English „Babydoll“ South-
down 5 120 130 126 74 80 76 + No
N/A
Ouessant 14 90 107 98 57 77 67 indifferent No 0.026
Pomerian Coarsewool Sheep 10 160 178 168 98 120 105 + No 0.109
Scottish Blackface N/A indifferent No 0.095
Shropshire Danish type 5 unable 95 109 106 + No 0.136
English type 16 154 154 154 102 109 107
Skudde 11 119 134 127 79 90 84 No 0.063
Soayscha
f
NA Yes 0.045
Southdown 12 unable 90 106 97 + No 0.127
Racka N/A No 0.077
Walachenschaf N/A No 0.087
Waldschaf 6 156 160 158 104 115 112 No 0.086
Roux du Valais N/A + No 0.113
White Horned Heath 4 144 146 145 103 103 103 No 0.081
White Polled Heath 4 145 153 149 98 99 99 No 0.081
Robustness reflects the breeders’ assessment of resistance to weather conditions, hoof constitution
and fertility. Mean and median differ by a maximum of 1 cm. Taking into account individual ana-
tomical differences, an interpretation of the max. height of the muzzle must recognize additional
height spans: for the two-legged stance approx. +/ 10 cm and for the four-legged stance approx. +/
5 cm. LU = livestock unit of the average weight of an ewe (conversion of 85 kg is 0.15 LU); N =
number of sheep measured; N/A = not available; NWS = natural wool shedding; TLS = two-legged
stance; FLS = four-legged stance; + = positive; = negative; robustness to disease was rated positively
across all breeds.
Figure 5. The muzzle heights of the sheep breeds studied. The dark blue area shows the average
height of the muzzle, which is reached in the four-legged stance with the neck stretched. The gray
area shows the range of heights that can additionally be reached in the average of the measurements,
given the ability to stand bipedally. The whiskers show the maxima of the measurements (for num-
ber see Table 3). The solid line at 105 cm is the height of the lowest wire, which was proved to be
Figure 5.
The muzzle heights of the sheep breeds studied. The dark blue area shows the average
height of the muzzle, which is reached in the four-legged stance with the neck stretched. The gray
area shows the range of heights that can additionally be reached in the average of the measurements,
given the ability to stand bipedally. The whiskers show the maxima of the measurements (for number
see Table 3). The solid line at 105 cm is the height of the lowest wire, which was proved to be favorable
for deployment of the Shropshire Danish type in our own field trial (several weeks of deployment in
the Guyot system during the vegetation period is possible). The lower limit is 105 cm (see below).
Within the English type of Shropshire, there appear to be many suitable animals that are not capable
of standing bipedally. O.E. = Olde English; Pomer. = Pomerian.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 11 of 17
The LU range across all breeds is between 0.026 (Ouessant) and 0.172 (Charollais). In
order to achieve the grazing performance of a Charollais ewe, 6.6 Ouessant ewes would
have to be used. All of the breeds are considered by flock book breeders to be robust in
terms of their resistance to the effects of weather, their hoof constitution and their fertility.
Ten breeds were positively evaluated for their manageability, 13 were negatively evaluated
by flock book breeders, and two received conflicting responses from breeders (Table 3).
4. Discussion
It should be emphasized that our study was a first qualitative screening for the suitabil-
ity of breeds for the new ICLS. First of all, we were able to identify breed characteristics that
can be considered favorable for grazing common vineyards of Central Europe during the
vegetation period. The list of these traits could change, for example, if current viticultural
systems are strongly adapted in the future. However, we consider the suitability list of
breed traits to be efficient and effective for other viticultural practices as well, so we do not
expect any significant changes to occur. In our own herd, we could observe that even in
minimal pruning systems, much better results are obtained when the animals cannot stand
on two legs. The inability of standing bipedally is a key requirement for long-duration
grazing during the growing season.
Breed-specific differences in the ability to stand bipedally have already been docu-
mented for goat breeds [
30
]. To our knowledge this has never been systematically recorded
for sheep. For some breeds, only a limited number of animals could be measured and/or a
small number of breeders could be involved in our study. Assuming there is a significant
correlation between breed-specific breeding requirements (especially with regard to wither
height) and the height of the muzzle in the four-legged or bipedal stance, measurements
of a few animals give a good but not final indication of the suitability of a breed for the
integration into the targeted vine training system (see above) during the grazing period. In
our study, the in some cases small number of measurements did not matter significantly, as
breeders of the affected breeds confirmed that sheep of their breed are capable of standing
bipedally. Specifically, it would have been desirable to involve more breeders for the evalu-
ation of Southdown, because this breed seems to be suitable for the new ICLS. However,
this breed is relatively rare in German-speaking countries. Therefore, we could not identify
any further breeders, so that our recommendations for Southdown need to be interpreted
with greater caution.
Southdown, Ouessant and Shropshire are, according to our survey, much better suited
than the other 23 breeds evaluated for the longest possible deployment in the vineyard
during growing season. Either they are very small (Ouessant) or are predominantly
incapable of a bipedal stance. In Shropshire of the Danish type, problems with lambing
appear to be relatively widespread. To remedy this and to improve the growth, both types
are often intercrossed. Within our own Shropshire flock, some animals have parents of both
types and are incapability of a bipedal stance. The relationship of body weight to leg length
seems to be decisive, while relatively longer legs tend to correlate with bipedal ability. Yet,
our data does not allow a conclusive assessment on this point. In contrast to the Ouessant
(0.026 LU), Shropshire and Southdown also have more favorable characteristics in terms of
manageability and grazing performance (Shropshire: 0.136 LU; Southdown: 0.127 LU), so
the time, labor and monetary costs of husbandry will be less than with those of Ouessant.
The breeds identified in our study can potentially also be utilized for deliberately (further)
breeding a “vineyard sheep breed”. Only a few of the breeds studied seem suitable for
crossbreeding in the sense of producing such a new breed (Figure 6). In order to breed-in
naturally fleece shedding qualities to Southdown or Shropshire, Dorper in particular seem
to be promising. Although natural fleece shedding saves labor and cost of shearing, from
the point of view of land-use efficiency this feature would be regrettable, even if the wool
prices in Central Europe currently favor naturally fleece-shedding breeds.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 12 of 17
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 17
Figure 6. Sheep in bipedal stance. There are breeds suitable for grazing for several weeks during the
growing season in common viticultural systems of Central Europe. Many breeds and animals are
only suitable to a limited extent because they are capable of bipedal grazing, as seen here in the
photo.
It is worth to mention, that in many cases, flock book breeders exclude animals that
do not meet breeding standards, but whose phenological characteristics might be partic-
ularly suitable for the use in vineyards. These individuals can only be identified through
direct contact with sheep farmers and breeders. Based on our own experience, within the
Cameroon breed there are small-sized rams with a wither height of less than 60 cm. Such
animals do not appear in flock books and were therefore not included by the selected
method. For instance, with these types of individuals, the trait of natural wool-shedding
could possibly be crossed-in in Ouessants. Ouessant rams could also be crossed with (the
larger) Cameroon. However, even with flock book breeding, not all individuals are com-
parable in terms of behavior [31,32]. Based on our observations, not all individual Oues-
sant sheep, for example, make use of the two-legged stance. Such behavioral differences
in individuals are not documented by the flock book breeders. It is possible that even flock
book breeders who have sheep which are in principle capable of standing bipedally,
would keep individuals that are unable or unwilling to do so and would therefore poten-
tially be well suited for the breeding of vineyard sheep. The reverse case is also conceiva-
ble; in this case, animals capable of bipedal stance would have to be excluded. For exam-
ple, within the English type of Shropshire, there appear to be many suitable animals that
are incapable of standing bipedally. According to our observations, leg length seems to be
a good predictor of this ability, and would serve as an ever better predictor if the differ-
entiation between English and Danish type were omitted. It is also worth adding that
lambs may exhibit again aberrant behavior in comparison to adults [11], which would
need to be taken into account in viticulture. We were unable to consider non-adult animals
in our study. Nevertheless, it is clear that a flock deployed in the vineyard during the
growing season must, if possible, be further bred to produce or retain the desired traits.
Figure 6.
Sheep in bipedal stance. There are breeds suitable for grazing for several weeks during the
growing season in common viticultural systems of Central Europe. Many breeds and animals are
only suitable to a limited extent because they are capable of bipedal grazing, as seen here in the photo.
It is worth to mention, that in many cases, flock book breeders exclude animals
that do not meet breeding standards, but whose phenological characteristics might be
particularly suitable for the use in vineyards. These individuals can only be identified
through direct contact with sheep farmers and breeders. Based on our own experience,
within the Cameroon breed there are small-sized rams with a wither height of less than
60 cm. Such animals do not appear in flock books and were therefore not included by
the selected method. For instance, with these types of individuals, the trait of natural
wool-shedding could possibly be crossed-in in Ouessants. Ouessant rams could also be
crossed with (the larger) Cameroon. However, even with flock book breeding, not all
individuals are comparable in terms of behavior [
31
,
32
]. Based on our observations, not
all individual Ouessant sheep, for example, make use of the two-legged stance. Such
behavioral differences in individuals are not documented by the flock book breeders. It is
possible that even flock book breeders who have sheep which are in principle capable of
standing bipedally, would keep individuals that are unable or unwilling to do so and would
therefore potentially be well suited for the breeding of vineyard sheep. The reverse case is
also conceivable; in this case, animals capable of bipedal stance would have to be excluded.
For example, within the English type of Shropshire, there appear to be many suitable
animals that are incapable of standing bipedally. According to our observations, leg length
seems to be a good predictor of this ability, and would serve as an ever better predictor if
the differentiation between English and Danish type were omitted. It is also worth adding
that lambs may exhibit again aberrant behavior in comparison to adults [
11
], which would
need to be taken into account in viticulture. We were unable to consider non-adult animals
in our study. Nevertheless, it is clear that a flock deployed in the vineyard during the
growing season must, if possible, be further bred to produce or retain the desired traits.
The breeds Ouessant, Shropshire and Southdown thus predominantly fulfill the iden-
tified priority traits for better predictability of grazing on the foliage area in a widely used
Animals 2022,12, 2575 13 of 17
vineyard training system and for minimizing the risk of undesirable grazing effects. This is
true, however, with the following caveat: both the height of the lowest training wire of the
vine training system and the height of the vine stem varies in different vineyards, so that
the suitability cannot be seen in absolute terms, but only as a function of the design of the
espalier. For example, if the grape zone is at 70 cm (which is in some vineyards the case),
the deployment of sheep described above is virtually impossible across all breeds during
the growing season.
In the course of climate change and increasing global warming, creating a shorter
foliage canopy by raising the lowest wire is fairly unproblematic from a viticultural point
of view, and often even advisable. Adjusting the wire frame in training systems is surely
not always possible. In addition, the above-mentioned range of variation (+/
5 cm in
four-legged stance) must be taken into account when predicting the grazing height. In our
own trials, we obtained some excellent leaf plucking results, but the predictability of effects
has limits and also requires a change in thinking away from the more precisely predictable
results of using machines for the same task.
From which height of vine stem and first wire sheep can be deployed or deployed in
an optimal way is a question of the intended/used sheep breed. Using the present findings,
grapevine training can now be adapted to the muzzle height of the suitable breeds in order
to approach the optimum. For the previously mentioned parameters (height of first wire,
fruit/leading shoot, height of vine stem), fully validated, application-related information is
still lacking, but in our own practical trial, a height of 105 to 115 cm (depending on the size
of the individual sheep: we used the Danish and English type) for the lowest wire/cordon
is a perfect height for the deployment of Shropshire (Figure 7). With fast grazing rotations,
i.e., of only a few days, which focus exclusively on grape zone clearance, favorable results
were also achieved where the lowest wire was between 90 and 100 cm high (Figure 8). This
also applies to vines on steep slopes.
Figure 7.
Results after several weeks of grazing and leaf plucking with a small Danish-type Shropshire
flock. The result was considered favorable by the winemakers. Optimization could be expected if the
lowest wires were raised a little more. Alternatively, the animals would have to be removed from the
pasture earlier. As an approximation, the following guideline is valid: the longer sheep are in the
vineyard, the higher they defoliate. Breeds that are capable of bipedalism start to use it over time.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 14 of 17
Animals 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 14 of 17
Figure 7. Results after several weeks of grazing and leaf plucking with a small Danish-type Shrop-
shire flock. The result was considered favorable by the winemakers. Optimization could be expected
if the lowest wires were raised a little more. Alternatively, the animals would have to be removed
from the pasture earlier. As an approximation, the following guideline is valid: the longer sheep are
in the vineyard, the higher they defoliate. Breeds that are capable of bipedalism start to use it over
time.
Figure 8. Effects after four days of grazing on approximately 450 m2 of vineyard with 20 Ouessant
sheep. To be seen here: inter-row vegetation grazing incl. in-row weed management (here also due
to scratching and lying down), almost complete and highly welcome removal of sucker shoots as
well as nearly perfect grape zone clearance (leaf plucking). Ideally, animals should change surfaces
when the desired effect is achieved. Animals could possibly be forced by the lack of accompanying
vegetation to make stronger efforts to reach higher vine leaves or to eat unripe grapes. Only those
breeds whose wither heights are below the wire frame and any applied irrigation systems (so that
Figure 8.
Effects after four days of grazing on approximately 450 m
2
of vineyard with 20 Ouessant
sheep. To be seen here: inter-row vegetation grazing incl. in-row weed management (here also due
to scratching and lying down), almost complete and highly welcome removal of sucker shoots as
well as nearly perfect grape zone clearance (leaf plucking). Ideally, animals should change surfaces
when the desired effect is achieved. Animals could possibly be forced by the lack of accompanying
vegetation to make stronger efforts to reach higher vine leaves or to eat unripe grapes. Only those
breeds whose wither heights are below the wire frame and any applied irrigation systems (so that
these are passable) are likely to be suitable for short-term growing season deployment. If grazing is to
be carried out over a longer period of time (several weeks) in Guyot systems, however, the majority
of the evaluated breeds must either be discouraged or a relatively large number of adaptations to the
vineyard must be made.
Due to their anatomy and strength, Southdown and Shropshire are, according to our
experience, generally much more capable than Ouessant of pulling fruit shoots out of the
espalier framework and thus causing damage (the stems dry out). In part, this behavior
is learned only over time. For this reason, in addition to adapting the wire arrangement
(see above), it seems advisable to use the highest possible vine stem to explicitly avoid this
risk. The leverage that the sheep can achieve by pulling with its mouth is lower with high
vine stems and the correspondingly higher base of the leading shoots. It is possible that the
(more costly) cordon cut would be more favorable for sheep use, since the young shoots
attach here at the level of the lowest wire. However, a good vine training system (insertion
of the shoots into the espalier framework) is always a prerequisite for the use of sheep,
provided that they can reach the fruiting shoots [11].
In summary, our study has shown that there are large differences in the characteristics
of sheep breeds. Our findings indicate that there is no one breed among those studied,
which has all the traits desirable in viticulture. This does not rule out that said mix of
traits may be found amongst the multitude of breeds existing worldwide. Southdown and
Shropshire (especially the Danish type) can already be attributed four of the five qualifying
breed traits listed above. As can be seen, breeding in the individual flocks of sheep kept for
grazing vineyards should always be focused on promoting viticultural desired traits. In
addition to sheep breed selection, several options for managing the risks and opportunities
of the new ICLS have been mentioned. For example, installing electrical wires in parallel
Animals 2022,12, 2575 15 of 17
and below the foliage area could partially eliminate the dependence on breed selection in
Guyot-trained vineyards.
Gonçalves et al. [
33
] investigated the possibility of using high-tech on sheep in vine-
yards. Collars should set acoustic and electric impulses when sheep feed on leaves or
grapes. This approach was intended to reduce the labor involved in livestock keeping
and is intended to allow year-round grazing. We are critical of this approach. First of all,
it must be stated that the browsing of vine leaves can be a viticulturally desired effect.
Besides the hoped-for benefits of high-tech, it is expensive, requires additional technical
know-how and promotes technology dependency. In the study of Gonçalves et al. the sheep
did not behave as desired, despite the electric stimuli. The authors furthermore suggest
that grazing during the growing season is not possible without such technology [
33
]. We
demonstrated in a previous study that desired results of the new ICLS are quite possible
without high-tech [
10
] (see Supplementary Materials at the end). In the present study, we
have shown that grazing vineyards is much more likely to be successful and effective when
conditions are matched.
In sum, the results of the precent study make it possible to further promote the new
ICLS in common vine training systems of Central Europe. Based on our findings, the
options for implementing the new viticultural model are considerable and suitable breed
traits are already available. Clearly, the new ICLS has the potential to protect the mentioned
breeds and breed traits. The tasks of future research fit into an established field of research
on the transformation of sustainability-deficient land use systems [
34
,
35
]. There are still
some open questions in the implementation of the new ICLS. Applied research should
focus on testing more breeds, other livestock, alternative viticultural systems designed to
integrate livestock, veterinary aspects and agro-economic as well as agro-ecological impacts
of the new ICLS.
5. Conclusions
We were able to identify breed traits that are very important for integrating sheep
in commonly used vine training systems of Central Europe during the growing season.
The anatomical inability to stand on two legs, in particular, is crucial. Presumably, this
breed-specific trait has not yet been recognized as important for other land-use forms.
The new ICLS could open up new options for breeds that show this and other suitable
traits. Ideally, the use of sheep would be considered when new vineyards are planned.
Existing vine training systems can also be adapted to some extent for better and safer
integration of sheep. Nevertheless, the breeds and breed traits recommended in our survey
provide an excellent starting point for spreading the new ICLS. Research and practical
testing of this ICLS has only begun, but could be highly significant in transforming a
sustainability-deficient viticulture.
Supplementary Materials:
Under the following link you can see a video that shows an implementa-
tion of the ICLS (German language): https://www.3sat.de/wissen/nano/201006-schafe-nano-102.
html Note: Bird protection nets can be seen in the video. The sheep, especially lambs, have learned
after about a year to bypass this protection by pressing their heads between the nets.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, L.C. and N.S.; methodology, L.C. and N.S.; validation,
M.H., J.H., R.L. and N.S.; formal analysis, L.C. and M.H.; investigation, L.C.; resources, R.L. and N.S.;
data curation, L.C. and M.H.; writing—original draft preparation, L.C.; writing—review and editing,
J.H., R.L. and N.S.; visualization, M.H. and N.S.; supervision, N.S.; project administration, J.H., R.L.
and N.S.; funding acquisition, R.L. and N.S. All authors have read and agreed to the published
version of the manuscript.
Funding:
This research was funded by the Baden-Württemberg Nature Conservation Fund, the
Musella Foundation for a Socio-Ecological Future, and the Heidehof Foundation. The article process-
ing charge was funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture and the
University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg in the funding programme Open Access Publishing.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Animals 2022,12, 2575 16 of 17
Informed Consent Statement:
Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the
study.
Data Availability Statement: The data can be requested from the authors if interested.
Acknowledgments: Many thanks to the breeders for their support.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
References
1.
FAO. The Second Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; FAO Commission on Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture Assessments: Rome, Italy, 2015.
2.
Gerken, M.; Renieri, C.; Allain, D.; Galbraith, H.; Gutiérrez, J.P.; McKenna, L.; Niznikowski, R.; Wurzinger, M. (Eds.) Advances in
Fibre Production Science in South American Camelids and Other Fibre Animals; Göttingen University Press: Göttingen, Germany, 2019;
ISBN 978-3-86395-408-6.
3.
Kaw˛ecka, A.; Pasternak, M.; Miksza-Cybulska, A.; Puchała, M. Native Sheep Breeds in Poland—Importance and Outcomes of
Genetic Resources Protection Programmes. Animals 2022,12, 1510. [CrossRef]
4.
Garrett, R.D.; Ryschawy, J.; Bell, L.W.; Cortner, O.; Ferreira, J.; Garik, A.V.N.; Gil, J.D.B.; Klerkx, L.; Moraine, M.; Peterson, C.A.;
et al. Drivers of Decoupling and Recoupling of Crop and Livestock Systems at Farm and Territorial Scales. Ecol. Soc.
2020
,25,
art24. [CrossRef]
5.
Jackson, J. The Impact of Integration of Sheep into Vineyards in New York State. Master’s Thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,
USA, 2021.
6.
Niles, M.T.; Garrett, R.D.; Walsh, D. Ecological and Economic Benefits of Integrating Sheep into Viticulture Production. Agron.
Sustain. Dev. 2018,38, 1–10. [CrossRef]
7.
Ryschawy, J.; Choisis, N.; Choisis, J.P.; Joannon, A.; Gibon, A. Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems: An Economic and Environmental-
Friendly Way of Farming? Animal 2012,6, 1722–1730. [CrossRef]
8.
Garrett, R.D.; Niles, M.T.; Gil, J.D.; Gaudin, A.; Chaplin-Kramer, R.; Assmann, A.; Assmann, T.S.; Brewer, K.; de Faccio Carvalho,
P.C.; Cortner, O. Social and Ecological Analysis of Commercial Integrated Crop Livestock Systems: Current Knowledge and
Remaining Uncertainty. Agric. Syst. 2017,155, 136–146. [CrossRef]
9.
Trouillard, M.; Lèbre, A.; Heckendorn, F. Grazing Sheep in Organic Vineyards: An On-Farm Study about Risk of Chronic Copper
Poisoning. Sustainability 2021,132, 2860. [CrossRef]
10.
Schoof, N.; Kirmer, A.; Hörl, J.; Luick, R.; Tischew, S.; Breuer, M.; Fischer, F.; Müller, S.; von Königslöw, V. Sheep in the Vineyard:
First Insights into a New Integrated Crop–Livestock System in Central Europe. Sustainability 2021,13, 12340. [CrossRef]
11.
Schoof, N.; Kirmer, A.; Luick, R.; Tischew, S.; Breuer, M.; Fischer, F.; Müller, S.; von Königslöw, V. Schafe Im Weinbau—Chancen
Und Herausforderungen, Praktische Umsetzung Und Forschungsziele. Nat. Landsch. 2020,52, 272–279.
12.
Lazcano, C.; Gonzalez-Maldonado, N.; Yao, E.H.; Wong, C.T.F.; Merrilees, J.J.; Falcone, M.; Peterson, J.D.; Casassa, L.F.; Decock, C.
Sheep Grazing as a Strategy to Manage Cover Crops in Mediterranean Vineyards: Short-Term Effects on Soil C, N and Greenhouse
Gas (N2O, CH4, CO2) Emissions. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 2022,327, 107825. [CrossRef]
13.
Brewer, K.M.; Gaudin, A.C. Potential of Crop-Livestock Integration to Enhance Carbon Sequestration and Agroecosystem
Functioning in Semi-Arid Croplands. Soil Biol. Biochem. 2020,149, 107936. [CrossRef]
14.
Conrad, L.; Henke, M.; Hörl, J.; Luick, R.; Schoof, N. Schafe im Weinbau–Eignung unterschiedlicher Rassen und mögliche
Zuchtziele. Berichte Über Landwirtsch. 2020,98, 1–18. [CrossRef]
15.
Oklahoma State University Sheep Breeds-Breeds of Livestock. Available online: http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/ (accessed
on 8 July 2020).
16. VDL Schafrassen. Available online: http://www.schafe-sind-toll.com/schafrassen/ (accessed on 8 July 2020).
17. Sheep 101 Kinds of Sheep. Available online: http://www.sheep101.info/sheeptypes.html (accessed on 8 July 2020).
18.
Nolana-Netzwerk Deutschland e.V. Nolana-Haarschafe-Zucht/Haltung/Förderung. Available online: https://www.nolana-
schafe.de/de-pages/ (accessed on 10 July 2020).
19.
Schafzuchtverbände Niedersachsen Zuchtprogramm Ouessantschaf. Available online: https://www.schafzucht-niedersachsen.
de/Schafzucht-Verbaende-Niedersachsen/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=714:ouessant&catid=107&
Itemid=916&lang=de (accessed on 1 January 2020).
20.
Schafzuchtverbände Niedersachsen Zuchtprogramm Berrichon Du Cher. Available online: https://www.schafzucht-
niedersachsen.de/Schafzucht-Verbaende-Niedersachsen/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=702:berrichon-
du-cher&catid=107:zuchtprogramm-weser-ems&Itemid=916&lang=de (accessed on 1 January 2020).
21.
Nielsen, H.M.; Amer, P.R.; Byrne, T.J. Approaches to Formulating Practical Breeding Objectives for Animal Production Systems.
Acta Agric. Scand. Sect.-Anim. Sci. 2014,64, 2–12. [CrossRef]
22.
Bogner, A.; Littig, B.; Menz, W. (Eds.) Das Experteninterview; Springer Fachmedien: Wiesbaden, Germany, 2002;
ISBN 978-3-8100-3200-3
.
23.
Ganter, M.; Benesch, C.; Bürstel, D.; Ennen, S.; Kaulfuß, K.-H.; Mayer, K.; Moog, U.; Moors, E.; Seelig, B.; Spengler, D.; et al.
Empfehlung für die Haltung von Schafen und Ziegen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für die Krankheiten der kleinen Wiederkäuer,
Fachgruppe der DVG: Teil 2. Tierärztl. Prax. Ausg. G Großtiere Nutztiere 2012,40, 390–396. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Animals 2022,12, 2575 17 of 17
24.
Rahmann, G. Ökologische Schaf- und Ziegenhaltung –100 Fragen und Antworten Für Die Praxis. Available online: http:
//www.uni-kassel.de/fb11agrar/fileadmin/datas/fb11/Dekanat/HonProf_Rahmann/Schafe-Ziegen-Skript.pdf (accessed on
12 October 2017).
25. Muth, F. Schäfereikalender 2020; Ulmer: Stuttgart, Germany, 2019; ISBN 978-3-8186-0841-5.
26.
Landesschafzuchtverband NRW Schafhaltung in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Available online: https://www.schafzucht-nrw.de/
pages/index.php?section=zuechter (accessed on 10 July 2020).
27. Niggli, U. Ich Mache Natürlich Weiter. Ökol. Landbau 2020,2020, 49–50.
28.
Humann-Ziehank, E.; Coenen, M.; Ganter, M.; Bickhardt, K. Long-Term Observation of Subclinical Chronic Copper Poisoning in
Two Sheep Breeds. J. Vet. Med. Ser. A 2001,48, 429–439. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
29.
Jacobeit, W. Schafhaltung und Schäfer in Zentraleuropa Bis Zum Beginn Des 20. Jahrhunderts; Akademie-Verlag: Berlin, Germany,
1987; ISBN 978-3-05-000144-9.
30.
Akba¸s, A.A.; Elmaz, Ö.; Saatci, M. Comparative Investigation of Some Behavior Traits of Honamlı, Hair, and Saanen Goats in a
Mediterranean Maquis Area. Turk. J. Vet. Anim. Sci. 2017,41, 705–712. [CrossRef]
31.
Schoof, N.; Luick, R.; Klein, A. Fraßverhalten von Ziegen Und Schafen Bei Eiben Und Stechpalmen. Nat. Landsch.
2017
,49,
397–399.
32.
Porzig, E.; Sambraus, H. (Eds.) Nahrungsaufnahmeverhalten Landwirtschaftlicher Nutztiere; Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag: Berlin,
Germany, 1991; ISBN 978-3-331-00527-2.
33.
Gonçalves, P.; Nóbrega, L.; Monteiro, A.; Pedreiras, P.; Rodrigues, P.; Esteves, F. SheepIT, an E-Shepherd System for Weed Control
in Vineyards: Experimental Results and Lessons Learned. Animals 2021,11, 2625. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
34.
Mupepele, A.-C.; Böhning-Gaese, K.; Lakner, S.; Plieninger, T.; Schoof, N.; Klein, A. Insect Conservation in Agricultural
Landscapes: An Outlook for Policy-Relevant Research. GAIA–Ecol. Perspect. Sci. Soc. 2019,28, 342–347. [CrossRef]
35.
Schoof, N.; Luick, R.; Ackermann, A.; Baum, S.; Böhner, H.; Röder, N.; Rudolph, S.; Schmidt, T.; Hötker, H.; Jeromin, H.
Auswirkungen Der Neuen Rahmenbedingungen Der Gemeinsamen Agrarpolitik Auf Die Grünland-Bezogene Biodiversität; BfN-Skript;
BfN: Bad Godesberg, Germany, 2019; ISBN 978-3-89624-278-5.
Article
Full-text available
Although the grazing of extensive standard orchards has long been a common practice in Europe and continues to take place on a considerable portion of existing traditional orchards, it is more unusual for current specialized and intensive orchards (with bush trees) to be grazed. The way in which animals are integrated into these modern forms of orchards differs according to the animal and tree species as well as to the place relegated to livestock as well as the expected and provided ecological services of that place. However, little literature is available on these modern forms of sylvopastoralism. The objective of this paper is therefore to provide the first overview of the advantages and limitations of these systems as perceived by the actors involved. Based on several research programs, we first tracked on-farm innovations to describe a diversity of systems. We then conducted a multifactorial analysis to characterize these systems according to: (i) structural farm variables; (ii) farmer motivations to integrate livestock; (iii) technical adaptations generated by sylvopastoralism; and finally, (iv) observed services and disservices provided by livestock in orchards. A total of 34 farms and 21 variables were used to differentiate three types of systems that differed according to animal species, grazing patterns, the degree of system redesign, and compliance between initial farmer motivations and the observed services. The results showed that while the practice of livestock grazing in orchards can be agronomically effective and economically viable, its success depends on the ability of growers to integrate all of the dimensions of livestock farming into their orchard system for a win-win association. There are a large number of variables that are involved in successful orchard grazing that result in both challenges and opportunities, but success is closely linked to the grower’s ability to adapt the production system to suit the intended role of livestock and to acquire new skills. This typology paves the way for numerous combinations between orchards and livestock. The analysis of the determinants, obstacles, and benefits provided by orchard grazing provides some preliminary elements that are necessary to adapt agricultural support to a diversity of integration patterns in integrated tree and livestock systems.
Article
Full-text available
The sheep population of native breeds, despite their unique features and the ability to adapt to harsh environmental conditions, has significantly decreased in recent years. Due to the low profitability of breeding, many local breeds of sheep in Poland were exposed to the risk of extinction. Many years of crisis in sheep farming have exacerbated this situation. The aim of this paper was to present the current situation of native sheep breeding in Poland, in terms of significance and effects of genetic resources protection programmes. The conservation of genetic resources of sheep aims to maintain and increase the population size while striving to maintain the greatest possible genetic variability. There are 17 native breeds included in the Polish sheep genetic resources conservation programme. A positive element of the implementation of the conservation of genetic resources programme for sheep is the accompanying measures which are based on the use of the non-productive role of the species. Extensive sheep grazing, as a form of nature conservation, serves to preserve valuable natural landscapes and the culture of local communities associated with sheep farming. Production and promotion of quality products, especially using niche markets and short production chains, are essential to ensure the economic viability of farms. These activities must be accompanied by raising public awareness of indigenous breeds and their alternative use in environmental activities, as well as their role in preserving the cultural heritage of local communities, for example through mountain grazing and the production of traditional products.
Article
Full-text available
Sheep grazing is increasingly being considered by winegrape growers to manage cover crop growth in Mediterranean vineyards, a practice that could contribute to reducing fertilizer inputs, coupling the cycles of C and N and increasing soil health. Nevertheless, short-term increases in available soil C and N could trigger the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). We carried out a field experiment in a Mediterranean vineyard of the Central Coast of California to investigate the short-term effects of grazing in combination with tillage on soil C, N and GHG emissions. Tillage and grazing treatments were combined in a full factorial design with 16 plots. Gas samples were collected using static chambers during the main management events from the tractor row and the soil under the vines within each plot. Gas samples were collected through two years, including two wet and two dry seasons and analyzed to assess daily fluxes and cumulative seasonal emisions of N2O, CH4 and CO2. In spring each year we collected soil samples from 0 to 15 and 15–30 cm depths of the vine and tractor rows of each plot, and from 0 to 15 cm depth at the time of gas sample collection. We observed that sheep grazing did not produce an increase in available soil N and C, but resulted in sporadic and localized peaks in daily N2O, CH4 and CO2 emissions. Nevertheless emissions were not significantly larger than non-grazed soils when extrapolated to the cumulative emissions of the whole season. The combination of tillage and grazing increased N2O emissions from the soil under the vine potentially due to increased nitrification rates. Sheep grazing and tillage did not have a significant effect on the yield and quality of the grapes during the two years of the study.
Article
Full-text available
Many winegrowers and sheep breeders are interested in wintertime grazing in vineyards, as an agroecological alternative to mowing or herbicide spraying, and additional supply of forage. Still, strong concern is raised by the use of copper-based fungicides, particularly in organic vineyards , since copper is known to induce chronic toxicosis in sheep. We conducted an on-farm study with n = 12 1-year-old Merinos × Mourerous ewes grazing the cover vegetation of vineyard plots during wintertime, in order to check whether this agricultural practice might be harmful to sheep. Our results indicate that most copper found in the cover vegetation originates from fungicide spraying versus plant uptake from the soil, and that rain-induced washing-off and plant growth-triggered dilution of copper are crucial to reach close-to-safe grazing conditions. Furthermore, we found that while sheep remained globally healthy during the 2 months of the experimental period, the plasma activity of Glutamate Dehydrogenase increased by 17.3 ± 3.0 U/L upon vineyard grazing (p < 0.001), reflecting liver storage of copper. We also discovered that the dynamics of molybdenum in sheep plasma are strongly affected by exposure to copper, suggesting a possible adaptation mechanism. Overall, our results suggest that winter grazing of sheep in organic vineyards is reasonably safe, but that care should be taken about grazing period duration. More research should be conducted with respect to long-term copper accumulation, spring and summer grazing, and possible protective mechanisms against copper chronic poisoning.
Article
Full-text available
The multiple land use of agricultural areas is a building block for increased land use efficiency. Unlike monoculture, integrated crop-livestock systems optimally improve ecosystem services, making it an important field of research and application for adapting land use and food systems that have sustainability deficits. The integration of sheep in viticulture production is described as a promising example of an integrated crop-livestock system. While some studies of the integration of sheep into vineyards are already available for other parts of the world, there is still no research on its implementation in Central European viticulture systems. In order to fill this gap of knowledge, we conducted standardized interviews with 34 winegrowers who already graze sheep in their vineyards. The method allowed a wider overview of the implementation of the integrated crop-livestock system than would have been possible with other approaches. Furthermore, the authors kept sheep in their own vineyard for three years to evaluate the statements of the survey participants. The period during which sheep graze in vineyards is quite heterogeneous in Central Europe. Some farms use sheep only during vine dormancy; others also let sheep graze during a certain period in summer. There are also viticulture training systems where grazing is almost continuously possible. In Central Europe, summer grazing normally requires operational adjustments such as lifting the wires of the training system and branches of the vine; otherwise, the vines could be damaged. This option seems to be tailored to the training system in use. Some interviewees mentioned that sheep not only use the accompanying vegetation as fodder and therefore control the undervine growth, but in some cases, they were also able to replace other work processes, such as defoliating the grape zone or cleaning undesired vine shoots near the ground. However, a high additional workload due to livestock keeping was also mentioned by some survey participants. Some of the interviewees cooperate with shepherds, which could help to solve this challenge. Finally, we summarize possible opportunities and risks of this integrated crop-livestock system. Integrating sheep in vineyards seems to be quite feasible in the period of vine dormancy, whereas more information and considerably more effort is needed to integrate sheep during the vegetation period. Further research is needed to answer open questions especially for the necessary adaptions of the common vine training system or the implementation of alternative systems more suitable to combine with livestock keeping. Some practitioners found opportunities to merchandize the use of sheep in wine sales. This potentially unique selling point could be a solution for a broader consideration of sheep in vineyards.
Article
Full-text available
Weed control in vineyards demands regular interventions that currently consist of the use of machinery, such as plows and brush-cutters, and the application of herbicides. These methods have several drawbacks, including cost, chemical pollution, and the emission of greenhouse gases. The use of animals to weed vineyards, usually ovines, is an ancestral, environmentally friendly, and sustainable practice that was abandoned because of the scarcity and cost of shepherds, which were essential for preventing animals from damaging the vines and grapes. The SheepIT project was developed to automate the role of human shepherds, by monitoring and conditioning the behaviour of grazing animals. Additionally, the data collected in real-time can be used for improving the efficiency of the whole process, e.g., by detecting abnormal situations such as health conditions or attacks and manage the weeding areas. This paper presents a comprehensive set of field-test results, obtained with the SheepIT infrastructure, addressing several dimensions, from the animals’ well-being and their impact on the cultures, to technical aspects, such as system autonomy. The results show that the core objectives of the project have been attained and that it is feasible to use this system, at an industrial scale, in vineyards.
Article
Full-text available
DEUTSCH: Der Einsatz von Schafen in Weingärten während der Vegetationsperiode erfährt in der Praxis aktuell eine relativ hohe Aufmerksamkeit. Schafe können teils obligatorische weinbauliche Arbeitsschritte übernehmen und sind eine interessante Option für das Weinmarketing. Der Schafeinsatz birgt auch Risiken und Nachteile, wie etwa den Aufwand, der sich fallweise aus der Tierhaltung und der noch defizitären Informationslage ergeben kann. In den häufigsten Reberziehungssystemen Mitteleuropas bestimmt die Schafrassenwahl entscheidend über potenzielle Risiken und Möglichkeiten. In der vorliegenden Untersuchung wurden Rassen hinsichtlich ihrer Eignung für das Doppelnutzungsmodell evaluiert. Dazu wurden zunächst die weinbaulich gewünschten Rassenmerkmale identifiziert. In der Untersuchung wurden anschließend 94 Herdbuchzüchter nach spezifischen Rassecharakteristika wie der Fähigkeit zum Zweibeinstand befragt. Für die Bewertung der Eignung einer Schafrasse ist die zu erwartende Verbisshöhe entscheidend. Sie definiert die potenzielle Einwirkung auf die Laubwand und determiniert die mögliche Beweidungsdauer im Sommer. Um die Äserhöhe zu bestimmen, wurden 179 Tiere von Herdbuchzüchtern vermessen. Als besonders geeignete Rassen für den Einsatz im Flachbogen-Spaliersystem wurden Shropshire dänischer Zuchtlinie sowie Southdown (nicht zu verwechseln mit „Babydoll“) identifiziert. Mit Abstrichen sind auch Ouessant-Schafe prinzipiell geeignet. Dies sind 3 der 27 hier behandelten Rassen. Andere Rassen können im Sommer allenfalls kurzzeitig in einer mitteleuropäischen Standardrebanlage eingesetzt werden und erzwingen rasche Flächenwechsel. Die Zuchtziele für eine (neue) mittelrahmige (Kreuzungs-)Rasse wären die fehlende Fähigkeit zum Zweibeinstand, ein natürlicher Haarwechsel, Robustheit (auch gegen Kupfer) und eine gute Führigkeit. ENGLISH: Grazing sheep in vineyards is currently receiving relatively high attention. Sheep are able to take over obligatory viticultural work steps and are an interesting option for wine marketing. However, using sheep in a vineyard also entails risks and disadvantages, such as the effort and expense involved in keeping the animals and the lack of information. In German viticulture, a large part of the vines are trained in spalier-systems with Guyot pruning. How long the use of sheep in these systems is possible during the growing season is not least a question of the choice of sheep breed. In the present study, breeds were evaluated with regard to their suitability for grazing in vineyards. To this end, the breed characteristics required for viticulture were identified. These are partially not addressed by the existing breeding guidelines. In the study, 94 pedigree breeders were therefore asked about specific breed characteristics such as cooperation or the ability to stand on two legs. The height of the mouth is particularly important for assessing the suitability of a breed of sheep, as it defines the potential impact on the leaf wall. To determine the height of the mouth, 179 animals were measured by pedigree breeders. Shropshire of the Danish breeding line and Southdown (not to be confused with the smaller “Babydoll”; that still sounds counterintuitive to us and should be approved) seem not be able to stay on two legs and are particularly suitable for use in spalier-systems with Guyot pruning. They can also be used in training systems such as in single wire system with spur pruning or spalier-systems with minimal pruning. With some limitations, Ouessant were also identified as suitable. These are 3 of 27 breeds covered here. Other breeds can only be used for brief periods within the growing season. Breeding objectives for a new medium-sized breed are the inability to stand on two legs, robustness (e.g. against copper-poisoning), cooperation and the coat should change naturally, if the price for wool is too low.
Article
DEUTSCH: Mehrfachnutzungen landwirtschaftlicher Flächen sind ein Baustein zur Steigerung der Flächeneffizienz. Gegenüber der Monokultur verbessern sie im Optimalfall Ökosystemleistungen und sind daher ein wichtiges Forschungs- und Anwendungsfeld für eine Adaption nachhaltigkeitsdefizitärer Landnutzungs- und Ernährungssysteme. Der Einsatz von Schafen im Weinbau während der Vegetationsperiode ist ein wissenschaftlich noch weitestgehend unerforschtes Doppelnutzungsmodell. Über standardisierte Interviews wurden 34 Experten befragt, die bereits heute Schafe in Weingärten halten. Die Schafe nutzen in der Sonderkultur nicht nur den Begleitwuchs als Grünfutter, sondern können auch als Ersatz für ansonsten händisch, maschinell oder chemisch durchgeführte weinbauliche Arbeitsschritte eingesetzt werden. Von den Experten wurde u.a. bestätigt, dass der Einsatz von Schafen in bestehende Kulturen je nach Reberziehungssystem mit relativ geringen Anpassungen der Betriebsabläufe möglich ist. Neben der Expertenbefragung wurden auch Verhaltensbeobachtungen an Weinberg-Schafen durchgeführt. Mithilfe der Studienergebnisse konnten Chancen und Risiken des Doppelnutzungssystems identifiziert und verschiedene Umsetzungsformen kategorisiert werden. Abschließend werden wesentliche Ziele einer zukünftigen Erforschung dieser Nutzungsform benannt. ENGLISH: The multiple use of agricultural land is essential to increase land efficiency. Research into these land use systems must be intensified in order to improve their sustainability and create resource-saving agricultural food systems. During the growing season, sheep grazing in vineyards is a still novel and largely unexplored example of such mixed use. In a standardised survey, we interviewed 34 experts who already keep sheep in their vineyards. The sheep can be used not only for inter-row management but also for viticultural work that is otherwise carried out manually, mechanically or chemically. Depending on the training system, it was confirmed that the integration of sheep into existing vineyards is possible with relatively minor adjustments. Furthermore, ethological studies were performed. The results serve to identify the opportunities and risks of using sheep in vineyards and to categorise different forms of implementation. Finally, major objectives for future research demands on this type of land use are outlined.