Breeding of a native sheep breed


The farm ‘Funtanazza’ is located in the South West coast of Sardinia (Italy), in a hilly site that degrades into the sea.

The innovation of the farm is the breeding of an ancient sheep breed, the ‘Pecora Nera di Arbus’, that makes their farm to-tally different from the others in the is-land.

Black sheep are quite rustic and more resistant to diseases than the white Sarda sheep.

They are smaller than white sheep and are able to move in the Mediterranean maquis without problems, grazing the poor quality natural herbaceous pasture and the young leaves of shrubs.

Sheep produce low amounts of milk but with the special flavour of the essences they eat. The cheese yield from milk is very high.

Reason for the innovation

  • Increase farmer income
  • Produce cheese with new taste to sell in high-quality niches and to tourists that visit the South West coast of Sardinia
  • Reduce production costs by breeding sheep perfectly adapted to the harsh environment of South West Sardinia

Farm description


  • Soil types: clay rocky soils, neutral pH
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate
  • Altitude: 50 m a.s.l.
  • Slope: 10%

Grassland management

  • Grazing: Yes
  • Grazing management type: rotational grazing, combined with mowing when there is a sufficient amount of forage (1 cut per year)
  • Length of the grazing season: 12 months
  • Forage conservation type: Hay
  • Fertilisation rate: chemical fertilizers are not used. Farmers just use manure on small areas


  • Annual Work Unit: 2 full-time workers
  • Agricultural Area: 150 ha, 55 ha UAA:
    • 55 ha, annual legumes (Trifolium alexandrinum and other clovers) in rotation with cereals (oat) or grasses (Italian ryegrass)
    • The rest of farm surfaces are covered by shrubby per-manent pastures
  • Activity: dairy sheep raising (Pecora nera di Arbus breed)
  • Number of heads (LSU): 25
  • Stocking rate referred to total farm area: 0,17 LSU per hectare

Animal performance

  • Milk production: 180-220 l per head per year
  • Meat production: 150 milk lambs per year, slaughtered 28 days after birth (carcass weight: 6-7 kg)

Why it is working

The farmers:

  • took advantage of an old family tradition that used to breed the black sheep;
  • often use to evocate past times to increase the attractiveness of their farm;
  • chose to produce niche high-quality cheese that encountered the favour of consumers.

Additional information

Farming system

conventional farming

Domains of innovation

animal type (breed)

Main types of animal

dairy sheep



Product type

Farmer portrait


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