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For the World Draft Cattle Symposium, the open-air laboratory conducted several surveys to gain a deeper insight into the current situation of draft cattle farming. In a fixed and always consistent questionnaire system, cattle farmers in certain regions were and are surveyed. In this case, questions are asked about the size of the farm, the number of animals kept, their sex and breed, and also about the areas of operation, weekly working hours and particular problems and challenges. The first surveys were carried out in Germany and Romania, followed by Uganda and Namibia. The initial results are both optimistic and alarming at the same time: while in Germany there has been a steady increase of draft cattle farming – admittedly still at a very low level – in Romania the numbers have fallen dramatically by more than 90% in just 20 years. For Uganda and Namibia, on the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear how strongly external factors such as civil war or climate change are triggering dramatic developments. These could lead to the almost complete loss of the skills essential for continued use of draft cattle in less than a generation and also pose the imminent threat to draft animals from persistent droughts or animal diseases.

A further survey is currently being prepared for the Cuban region of Pinar del Rio, where cattle traction is a long lasting tradition and where it has gained renewed importance due to sanctions and the scarcity of fossil fuels.

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