Livestock breeders face shortage of shepherds

Livestock breeders face shortage of shepherds

Livestock breeders face shortage of shepherds

Livestock breeders across Türkiye are grappling with a shortage of shepherds, exacerbating concerns within the already-strained livestock sector.

Despite offering monthly salaries ranging from 35,000 to 60,000 Turkish Liras ($1,090-$1,860), plus expenses, advertisements for shepherds remain unanswered, prompting breeders to seek solutions in hiring foreign shepherds.

Doğan Gülcü, residing in Erzurum, shared his fruitless account of searching for a shepherd to herd his 500 sheep.

Gülcü said that breeders have had difficulty in finding shepherds, especially in the last few years, “Livestock breeding has come to an end. Although we pay high salaries, we have difficulty in finding a shepherd,” he complained.

“People probably don't prefer shepherding because they don't think shepherding is worthy of them. People I know are willing to wash dishes six days a week for minimum wage, but they don't want to be a shepherd.”

In turn, some breeders have turned to foreign shepherds who are often illegal immigrants.

In a case in the southern city of Hakkari, five breeders brought shepherds from neighboring Iran’s Urmia, only to face hefty fines and deportation of the workers for lacking proper work permits and insurance.

Mehmet Salih Alaca, one of the affected breeders said, “We cannot find a shepherd. So, we brought shepherds from the villages of Urmia, but we were fined 170,000 liras each. The shepherds were also fined 8,000 liras each and then deported,” he said.

Ibrahim Çiftçi, a breeder in the eastern city Erzincan, voiced frustration at the lack of local interest in shepherding roles, “People employ foreign shepherds, but we are not in favor of that. We want our own people to work.”