Classification, characterisation and strategies for improvement of cattle and sheep pasture systems in marginal areas of Southern Chile

Pasture-based livestock systems in farms with medium or low size are especially important in less favored areas and are valuable for society. For these systems to survive, it is necessary to obtain an acceptable level of productivity and ensure commercialization of the products. This study was carried out in the district of Rio Ibanez, General Carrera Province, in the XI (Aysen) Region of Chile. The sample consisted of 28 small-scale livestock farmers with dual-purpose cattle production; 16 of them also produced sheep for meat. The empirical data produced 55 variables which were subjected to multivariate analysis; three main components were obtained which explain 72.1 % of the variance. By cluster analysis it was obtained four groups with characteristics which varied by farm size, age and personal situation of farmers, farm management and farm profitability. The principal problems found are low productivity in the herds and the poor marketing channels of animals produced. In two groups, due to the low size and poor management, the profitability of the farms is very low and this may compromise their future. To improve production systems, the training and advice of farmers should be strengthened, investment should be supported, especially for young people, and the farmer partnership should be promoted. There is also a need to diversify the families' sources of income (sale of other farm products or handicrafts and touristic activities).

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