Structural characterisation and typology of beef cattle farms of Spanish wooded rangelands (dehesas)

Maria José Milán, Jordi Bartolomé, Raquel Quintanilla, Maria Dolores García-Cachán, Manuel Espejo, Pedro Luis Herráiz, José Manuel Sánchez-Recio, Jesús Piedrafita

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The structure and typology of beef cattle farms from three autochthonous Spanish breeds (Avileña-Negra Ibérica, Morucha and Retinta) located in "dehesa" areas have been characterised from a survey including 130 farms. The questionnaire provided information on the structure of the farms, feeding practices, reproductive and sanitary management, production and commercialisation of the product. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis (multiple correspondences analysis and cluster analysis) were used to understand the relationships between variables and to establish farm typologies. We have found that the farms are large (an average of 125 cows and 548 ha), with an average stocking rate of 0.4 livestock unit/ha of agricultural area. Most of the farms are family managed, but with an important presence of external employees. Feeding depends largely on grazing, with seasonal supplementation. The presence of other livestock species, such horses, sheep and swine is frequent. The typology of the farms has been established on the basis of (1) farm size, (2) productivity of labour, (3) degree of specialisation, and (4) degree of extensification. Three groups of farms have been differentiated. The first group has followed a strategy of intensification of the system and includes the smallest farms. The second group is constituted by farms of intermediate size, very specialised in beef production. The third group includes large farms that have followed a strategy of extensification, complementing farm incomes by the exploitation of other livestock species. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-209
JournalLivestock Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


  • Beef cattle
  • Farm typology
  • Livestock farming systems
  • Multiple correspondence analysis
  • Spanish dehesa
  • Structural characterisation


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