Cows, goats, pigs or sheep? Which is the most common livestock on European farms?
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This map gives an interesting look at which livestock is most common in each of Europe’s NUTS2 areas. Livestock are farm animals like cows, goats, sheep and pigs. It is commonly defined as domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labour and commodities such as meat, milk, fur, leather, and wool. The definition of livestock is slightly different in some parts of the world. In the US, horses are considered livestock. In Europe, they are not. Therefore, horses are not included in this map.
Livestock covers almost all typical farm animals, except poultry. I did consider including poultry (or even just chickens) in this map. However, they would by far outnumber the other farm animals in almost every area in Europe. It does makes sense, as chickens are much smaller than livestock and can therefore be kept in much larger numbers.
We can see some interesting geographical patterns on this map. First off, goats. They have the smallest number of areas in which they are the majority. Not surprisingly, most of these areas are in Greece, famous for its goat cheese. The other 2 areas, are the Spanish Canary Islands and the Portuguese island of Madeira. All of these are very mountainous islands, making them more suitable for keeping goats.
Sheep seem to be the most common livestock on the Balkan Peninsula, parts of southern Europe, the UK and Iceland. In Bosnia, Iceland, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Romania, sheep are the most common livestock throughout the whole country.
Pigs are the most common livestock in large parts of Spain and Central Europe. Bovine animals, like cows, are the most common livestock in most of France, the Alps, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Latvia and Lithuania.
One interesting thing we can see is the divide in Belgium. In all of the Dutch speaking part, pigs are the most common livestock. In all of the French speaking part, bovine animals are the most common livestock.