“In Lower Saxony there are around 210,000 sheep in around 10,450 farms. The herdbook breeding is of particular importance, taking a leading position in a national comparison with over 500 farms and more than 21,000 herdbook animals. Four extremely active and successful sheep breeding associations have contributed to the fact that Lower Saxony breeding animals are in demand all over the world today. The East Frisian milk sheep in particular have become a real export hit. The average herd size in sheep farming in this country is just under 20 animals per herd. However, this number hardly reflects the actual situation. It can be assumed that around 80% of all farms only keep very small herds and that the majority of sheep are counted in significantly larger herds. One of the most important tasks of our many sheep breeds is coastal protection and landscape maintenance in the various regions of Lower Saxony. They shape rural areas and preserve landscapes and biotopes. Dike maintenance is of particular importance here, which would be inconceivable without sheep farming. The sheep thus make an important contribution to society in maintaining and shaping our diverse landscapes. At the same time, many of the local sheep farmers have committed themselves to preserving genetic diversity. Among the 40 or so breeds that can be found in Lower Saxony there are many that are threatened with extinction and can only be preserved as a living cultural heritage for our society through the great commitment of the sheep farmers. Sheep farming in Lower Saxony has a wide range of different products available to consumers. Whether it is the high-quality lamb, which is often served as fillet or roast at Easter, or the versatile milk that we enjoy processed as cheese or pure, or the warm woolen sweater that we appreciate so much on cold days: these are significant achievements in sheep farming. High product quality and regional production in sheep farming stand for animal and environmentally friendly production that deserves our appreciation.”
The Lower Saxony State Sheep Breeding Association (in existence since 1916) has 1400 sheep breeders as members - the smallest farm has 4 sheep and the largest has a herd of 2500 sheep. The association represents the interests of its members in advice and support, and it regularly offers advanced training. The training for young shepherds takes place in Triesdorf and Halle. In Lower Saxony there is no longer any special training for shepherds. There are 0 trainees from Lower Saxony and will be trained in Halle. For our research we looked for holdings in very special and extreme locations in Northern German.