Livestock Research for Rural Development 20 (7) 2008 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Potential of organic animal husbandry in Enez

S B Akova 

Istanbul University  Department of Geography  34118 Laleli /Istanbul/Turkey




In our era, health problems which are arising from nutrition have caused to an increase in people’s interest in organic products. Among organic products, the demand for organic animal products is also increasing day by day. Accordingly, the studies aiming to determine the areas where organic products can be obtained, as well as the evaluation of the potentials at such places are highly important. Enez county, which constitutes the subject of our research, has convenient conditions for performing organic animal husbandry.


A very significant potential in the region will turn into an actual value when the currently-maintained animal husbandry is slightly re-arranged according to the principles of organic animal husbandry in the region; and the welfare level of the people in the region will increase thanks to the obtained income; furthermore, with this ecologic approach, “Turkish Grey Steppe Cattle breed” which is in peril of extinction and which live semi-wild will be protected. 

Keyword: Environmental sustainability, organic animal husbandry, rural organization


Enez county is located in northwestern side of Turkey, on the southwest of Thrace Peninsula, on the borderline of Turkey and Greece. With an area of 473 km2, although Enez district is an appealing area with almost flat topography, deeply productive lands, abundant water resources, slightly arid climate, and high quality structure of its population; the population is not increasing; on the contrary, it is decreasing. The county’s population in 1980 was 13 230, while it decreased to 12 700 in 1990 and to 10714 in 2007. As it is also shown in Table 1, there are dramatic decreases in rural population. A certain part of the rural population immigrated to cities, while a major part immigrated to outside of the county. Making good use of rural areas carries a big importance. In Enez, where 10714 people live (according to year 2007 statistics), 3752 of the population consists of urban population and 6962 from rural population. The number of houses in villages is 3152. The centrum of the county, there are 4040 houses, approximately 3000 of which are used as summer houses. In summer, the population of the district increases sharply.

Table 1. Population in Enez County between 1980-2007






13 230


10 352


12 700




11 920







Source :

Maritsa (Meriç) River, which draws the borderline between Turkey and Greece, and floating into Aegean Sea, is an important water supply (Figure 1). Besides, with very wide rush areas, lakes and arable fields Maritsa delta is one of the most watery lands of Turkey. On the east of Maritsa valley, the lowest plateau is Hisarlidag at 400 meters altitude. The diameter of Hisarlidag mass is indicated as 10 km on north-south direction and 15 km on east-west direction (Göçmen 1976).

  Location and Topography Map of Enez District

Enez is an internationally important watery area in terms of fish species and water birds. In the region, many lakes and lagoons with large and small sizes have occurred, as a result of being separated from sea with sea movements, alluvial accumulation, and the change of Maritsa river bed. Among them, Gala, Sıgırcı, Pamuklu lakes and many other small lakes and weirs can be listed. 2369 hectares section of the area including Kucuk Gala and Pamuklu lakes were announced as Nature Preservation Area in 1991. Nature Preservation Areas are the natural pieces which are important with regard to science and education, which are rare, with imperiled ecosystems, species and natural events in danger of extinction, including exquisite examples, and which are spared for only scientific and educational use. In 1992, the region was declared as a preservation area, and it was turned into a National Park in 2005 with the decision of board of ministers; and the area of the preserved land was expanded further when it gained the status of “Gala Lake National Park” in 05-03-2005, the borders were revised and the area was increased to 6090 hectares (Figure 2). “Turkish Grey Steppe Cattle breed”, whose number has reduced dramatically in Turkey and which forms the subject of our research, is also included as a semi-wild element of this ecosystem. Turkish Grey Steppe Cattle constitutes a piece of the ecosystem in Hisarlidag and its surroundings which form an integrity with the preserved Gala lake, and it is an important potential for organic anima husbandry as it is a breed highly in harmony with the region. 

Figure 2.
  From Hisarlıdağ to Gala Lake

In the region, where summers are hot and dry, while winters are warm and rainy as the peculiarities of the Mediterranean climate, 76 percent of the land has flat, slightly or average slope topography, and 66 percent of the lands are suitable for agriculture. These data represent very significant values for the agricultural life. The conditions are very suitable for the development of the agriculture. In Enez, 16504 hectares of the agricultural lands are arable fields, 729 hectares are orchards and vineyards. Dry agriculture is dominant in the region. Wheat is grown in 7000 hectares area. Wheat is followed by sunflower on 385 hectares. Rice production is also widely performed in the region on 655 hectares, and rice farming is an important means of living for the people. Besides, when the lands, which are either not very suitable for agriculture or which have sharp slopes, are used for animal husbandry properly, optimum benefit will be provided on the land with various means of utilization which support and complete each other; and thus the foundation of sustainable welfare will be laid. So, both the natural environment will be protected and the people in the region will obtain better living conditions.

Source:  Directorate of Agriculture in Enez District, Agricultural statistics of year 2005

Figure 3.  Land Use in Enez,  %

Looking at the land use in Enez, it is observed that forests have 19 899 hectares, meadows and pasture lands have 1980 hectares, agricultural lands have 17 481 hectares and non-agricultural lands have 8940 hectares area. As it is seen, the ratio of total forest and meadow-pasture land areas account for 45.3 percent; therefore, forest areas and meadows-pasture lands have a very large area in Enez (Figure 3). Most of the forests and meadows-pasture lands are located in Hisarlidag. On the skirts of Hisarlidag, there is a forest zone dominated by Cermes oak and Quercus pubescens, while there are forests of Quercus sessiüflora and Quercus pubescens above 200 meters altitude (Figure 4). Besides, field mapple, flowering ash, oriental hornbeam and cermes oak may also be observed. Among bushes, phillyrea latifolia, prickly juniper, common myrtle and paliurus spina-christii (Irmak et al 1980)  can be seen. On this zone, Turkish Grey Steppe cattle sustain their lives without giving harm to the natural environment, as integrity with that environment. So, both the natural environment will be preserved, and the organic animal husbandry activity we are recommending will provide better living conditions for the people in the region.

Figure 4.  Landuse of Enez District

Organic agriculture and organic animal husbandry


Organic agriculture is the method of production which does not allow chemical inputs and where every stage from production to consumption are controlled and certified. In organic production, human-nature relation is maintained as complementary to each other, without harming each other and in a way that complete each others requirements reciprocally. This balance, which used to be kept in the past, was broken due to the quick increase of population and with the increase in the demand for nourishment materials in order to meet the feeding needs of that population. Conventional production was performed in order to obtain more nutrition materials. As obtaining the highest yield and the most economic product is the principle for conventional production method, the ecologic balance and health criteria of product quality, which we are to face as a serious problem afterwards, are neglected. These production-based problems, which are continuing to increase, have now started to endanger human health seriously and also brought new searches into agenda on this subject. The concept of organic agriculture has gained a high importance especially in the USA and Europe in recent years. The negative impacts of chemical agricultural inputs first started to be seen in the developed countries which use such inputs densely. So, the search for alternative production methods first started in those countries. The roots of the studies for organic agriculture even go back to 1910s, while it turned into a more organized action in 1970s. In 1991, the first wide-scope directive related with Organic agriculture was issued by the EU; that directive was modified several times later, and the section related with animal products was added in 1999.


Currently, controlled and certificated organic agriculture is being carried out on 31 million hectares area all over the world. Just in one year, 5 million hectares area was added to organic agricultural areas (IFOAM 2006). The highest increase in organic areas has been realized in China with approximately 3 million hectares.


Australia has the largest organic area with 12.1 million hectares. China is the second after Australia with 3.5 million hectares and Argentina is third with 2.8 million hectares. The most important factor for the high quantity of organic areas in these countries is the inclusion of certificated pasture land areas spared for organic animal husbandry in those organic production areas. In Australia/Oceania the largest organic areas of the world account for 39 percent, and Europe follows it with 21 percent, Latin America with 20 percent, Asia with 13 percent, North America with 4 percent and Africa with 3 percent (Willer and Minou 2006). Looking at the areas compared to total agricultural areas, Australia, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries are on the first ranks. For example in Switzerland, more than 10 percent of the agricultural lands are allocated for organic agriculture.


In the world, there are approximately 623 174 organic production companies. Among them, approximately 167 000 are in Europe, 2 662 are in Australia/Oceanea, 12 000 in North America and 130 000 in Asia. If we are to make an evaluation on country basis, 120 000 of those companies are in Mexico, 45 000 in Indonesia and 36 639 in Italy (FIBL 2005).


If we are to evaluate the organic product market shares as per the continents, the share of organic products (in 2003) is 13 billion US dollars in Western Europe, 11.4 billion US dollars in North America, 480 million US dollars in Asia, 240 million US dollars in Oceania and Australia.


Organic agriculture has developed rapidly in only a few years and started being practices in approximately 120 countries so far. As it is also understood from the above-given figures, the quantity of organic agricultural areas and farms is gradually increasing. Besides, in many countries organic agriculture is being conducted without certification.


Organic agriculture activities in Turkey started due to the demand from European companies rather than the domestic demand in Turkey. The activities began in 1984-85 in fig and grape farming, which are generally exported after being dried, and the product range expanded in time. In order to perform organic agricultural activities in a healthy manner, Ecologic Agricultural Organization association (ETO) was founded in 1992. In 1994, “the Legislation on the Production of Vegetal and Animal Products of Agriculture with Ecological Methods” was enacted in accordance with the European Union norms.


During the accession process to the European Union, in accordance with the “National Program of Turkey regarding the Adoption of the European Acquis communitaire”, the additions and modifications to the European Union’s Organic Agriculture Directives, were prepared so as to cover the vegetal, animal and water products, and as a result, first “Directive regarding the Principles of Organic Agriculture and its Application” was prepared and issued on the Official Gazette 24812 dated 11.07.2002, and then, another directive was prepared basing on “Organic Agriculture” law 5262 dated 1.12.2004. The studies on this subject are currently ongoing and they are continuously updated.


The geographical potential, and as many regions have not been polluted with chemical substances encourage growing a multitude of organic products in Turkey, as a major advantage. Regarding organic products, rapid developments have been observed in Turkey in recent years. Table 2 represents that in 1994, when the legal regulations were started, 1705 farmers on 5216 hectares are raised 26 types of organic products and obtained 8843 tons of organic product yield. In 2003, the area increased to 113 621 hectare, the number of farmers to 14 798, the number of product types to 179, and production to 323 981 ton, and in 2005 production area increased to 203 811 hectare, number of farmers to 14 401, number of product types to 205, and quantity of production to 421 934 ton.

Table 2. Number of product types, farmers, production areas and production quantities in organic farming


Number of product types

Number of farmers

Production area, ha

Production quantity, ton



























With regard to the export products based on organic products in Turkey (Table 3); 8.6 million kg equivalent to approximately 19 million US dollars value organic product exports were realized in 1998, 13 million kg equivalent to 23 million US dollars in 2000, 21 million kg equivalent to 37 million US dollars in 2003, and 9 million kg equivalent to 26 million US dollars in 2005.       

Table 3. Export values as per years


Quantity, Kg

Value, $


8 616 687

19 370 599


12 049 949

24 563 892


13 128 934

22 756 297


17 556 280

27 242 407


19 182 859

30 877 140


21 083 351

36 932 995


16 093 189

33 076 319


9 319 328

26 230 259

Source: Aegean Exporters Union

Organic animal husbandry is an inseparable part of organic agriculture. Although, organic agriculture began and came into agenda with growing organic vegetal products, major developments have also been observed in organic animal husbandry, which is a piece of agricultural activities. In organic agricultural activities, animal husbandry supports vegetal production, and provides a health and easier development of organic agriculture. In fact, animal husbandry and vegetal production complete each other just like the lings of a chain in organic production. Because, a major part of the natural fertilizer required for organic vegetal production is provided from animal husbandry, and the animal feed, which is generally preferred, as it alternately grown in field and strengthens the soil, and so the natural activity functions like a locomotive.


With the preservation of ecologic balance and the natural species peculiar to any region in this balance, the continuity of animal husbandry products will be provided and healthy products will be supplied to the market.


In today’s world, similar to intensive vegetal production, the idea of obtaining the highest yield and consequently the modifications on genes of animals, the utilization of various chemicals, etc. have started to threaten the health and welfare of animals, and consequently the human health. For these reasons, ecologic animal husbandry where the animals can move naturally, feed away from chemicals and can be used when required in order to remove the problems on intensive animal husbandry and to provide animal welfare is rapidly gaining more importance.


In Turkey, in the Directive on the Principles and Practice of Organic Agriculture prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Official Gazette 2005); organic animal husbandry is defined as the breeding of animals by using stud animal and sperms, the provision of human food and animal and vegetal nutrition products from animal products, provision of organic raw material to the industries and scientific studies which obtain their raw materials from agriculture, and the production activity, each stage of which is controlled and certificated according to that directive.


In Turkey, organic animal products are just started being produced, and consequently the number of businesses is very little. Organic husbandry began with beekeeping. It is also concentrated on beekeeping currently, and rapid increases have been observed in organic honey production. The number of organic beekeeping companies is 127, the number of beehives is 24475, and the honey production is 573 ton (year 2005 figures). As also shown in Table 4, organic beekeeping is mostly concentrated in Muğla, Çanakkale and Van. As it is seen, the places where organic beekeeping is made are also the traditional honey production centers. Regarding the production of other animal products, there are also other potentials similar to our subject of research in Enez, and these potentials can be benefited from. 

Table 4. Organic Beekeeping


Number of farmers (Businesses)

Number of Beehives

Production quantity honey, Ton

Domestic market, Ton
























































Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Year 2005 Data

In Turkey, organic animal husbandry is generally performed in Gumushane, Igdır, Izmir and Rize. The number of farmers is very little. However, it is also known that there are products organically raised through traditional methods, which are not certificated and has been subject to statistics in Turkey. However, such farmers are not aware that they are performing organic animal husbandry.


Similar to beekeeping, developments will be experienced in time and the existing potential will be evaluated in other means of animal husbandry.


Animal husbandry in Enez


The agricultural activities in Enez constitute a major economic industry. Agricultural activities and animal husbandry as a part of it, has a great potential; and this potential has not been discovered yet especially for the organic agriculture and it has not been benefited from sufficiently. In the region, where the tourism potential is also very rich, the focus is mainly directed towards tourism. However, when the existing potential of organic agriculture is turned into use, it will provide great benefits to the people of the region, and it will also support tourism activities. Cattle husbandry, which is the subject of our research, is performed in every village of Enez including the Centrum. As represented in Table 5, Sultanice village with 270 houses is on the first rank in terms of cattle husbandry, and it is followed by Hisarli village with 45 houses. They are followed by Enez Centrum and Isıkli with 65 houses. It is thought that the potential of the region is suitable for performing averagely five times of the existing animal husbandry in the region.

Table 5. Existing Cattle Husbandry Data in Enez


Number of animals


Number of animals









Enez Merkez


Küçük Evren










Çataltepe Mahallesi




Büyük Evren




















Source:  Directorate of Agriculture in Enez County data of year 2005

According to year 2005 statistics that, of the totally  animals bred in the region, 7300 are hybrids, and 850 are homebreds. These values show that, although intensive animal husbandry is wide spread in general, the dominance of native cattle and hybrid cattle in the region is significant, and efforts are being spent in order to preserve the native breed as much as possible. However, unless measures are taken and new solutions are provided, this method of natural production is subject to the danger of extinction at any time. 


In Enez, Turkish Grey Steppe Cattle, which is peculiar to this region, are being raised. Turkish Grey Steppe Cattle is an important potential and advantage of the region for organic animal husbandry; the importance of which is increasing continuously all over the world. These cattle form up a piece of the natural environment (Figure 5).

Figure 5.  Cows from Enez District

Grey steppe cattle give birth and raise their children on their own. Almost no human intervention is required on these animals. The meat quality of grey steppe cattle is very high, and its meat is very delicious. As they can feed completely in a natural way, and as they are continuously acting freely on a wide space, the fat ratio of their meats is low. The low fat ratio not only makes the meat more delicious but it is also very important in terms of healthy nutrition.


Main characteristics of grey steppe cattle


Grey steppe cattle, which is from the grey breed, is defined in the international literature as Anatolian Grey or Turkish Grey. Generally, they are spread on the western part of Central Anatolia, Northern Aegean, Southern Marmara and especially Thrace, which is the subject area of our research. With a robust body, the leather color of Turkish Grey Steppe Cattle is dark grey, while its hair color varies from light silver to dark ash color. Its eyes are black. There is a dark ring around the eyes of the bulls. Cows are rather light colored compared to bulls. They have horns with yellowish white roots and black tips. The color of calves is light brown from birth and they turn into grey as the animal grows older. The adult male weighs 470 kg in average while the females weigh 375 kg. Turkish grey steppe cattles can general give birth easily and without requiring any help. They breed by themselves under natural conditions. With regard to their behavioral characteristics, they have strong herd instincts, maternal instincts, and pasturing instincts. Enuring Grey steppe cattle to milking is very difficult, but they leave their milks easily when their calves are near to them. They have an aggressive and timorous character, but they do not cause to any difficulties for their owners. Their handling by strangers is very difficult. They are aggressive and ready to attack. When they feel danger, they immediately act in order to protect their calves and the herd they belong to (Soysal et al 2005; Observations and cattle owners 2006).


Regarding nourishment, they have a highly developed digestion system; therefore, they can make use of low quality feeds, and tolerate to low nourishment in severe winter and nature conditions. These cattle have high adaptation ability to the climate, and they are also very resistant against diseases and harmful elements. When they are sick, they also get well very quickly. Their natural habitats are generally the interior parts of the forests on the mountainous regions; and they can live, feed, breed and sustain their lives without any human intervention (Soysal et al 2005; Observation and cattle owners 2006).


In organic animal production, the most important stage of production is the selection of animal. In organic animal husbandry establishments, for stud or production; animals which are resistant to natural conditions, to the environment, to climatic conditions and diseases should be selected. As a result, the selection of native breeds and hybrid breeds which are adapted to the conditions of the region should be selected in priority. In Enez, especially in Hisarlidag mass, this most basic condition is provided automatically.


For organic animal husbandry, it is stated that the sheds of animals are required to be sufficient for responding to the natural activities of the animals, and that it is important for animal ethics and for keeping the immunity system of the animals strong, in order to prevent quick infections. Besides, keeping cattle tied is forbidden. The number of animals in the sheds should not exceed the limit that would prevent the natural activities of the animals (Şayan and Polat 2005). In Hisarlidag, the animals sustain their lives naturally in such an environment (Figure 6). As they maintain their lives freely on a wide and free environment, their immunity systems are very strong. They do not get sick easily. In terms of animal ethics, the conditions are very positive.

Figure 6.  Cows at Hisarlıdağ

For organic animal husbandry, the enterprises are required to own meadow and pasture land areas to supply economic and ecologic roughage, as an important condition (Şayan and Polat 2005). In addition to meadows and pasture lands on the research field, the region is generally covered with oak lands; therefore, the animals can consume the flora beneath eat easily. The forest would not be harmed because of that. Besides, the production of feed plants provides the integration of vegetal and animal production. In these areas, if the animal production and vegetal production would be taken into rotation, then the yield of the land would increase, the soil would be protected, the quality and quantity of animal and vegetal products would increase, the costs would be reduced and the income to be obtained in conclusion would increase.  


All these properties indicate that there is a great natural potential of organic animal husbandry. Here, the most important issue is the maintenance of the existing situation without destruction, and the provision of support with some other human factors.


The most important problems that prevent making use of the existing potential of organic animal husbandry are; the agricultural establishments’ attaching importance to subsistence farming mostly, lack of sufficient farmer organizations, general lack of flow of information and subsidy policies for the establishments or difficulties in practicing the existing ones, lack of sufficient quantity of researches regarding the subject, lack of profound technical staff, low domestic demand due to low per capita income, the existence of strong rival countries in export markets (Observations and cattle owners 2006). 





Directorate of Agriculture in Enez county 2004-2005 Agricultural statistics.


Aegean Exporters Union Statistics


FIBL 2005 Survey


Göçmen K  1976  Aşağı Meriç vadisi taşkın ovası ve deltasının alüviyal jeomorfolojisi, İstanbul


IFOAM 2006


Irmak A, Kurter A and Kantarci D 1980  Trakya’nın orman yetişme bölgelerinin sınıflandırılması, İstanbul.


Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs 2005 Year 2005 data


Soysal İ, Özder M, Karadağ O and Sezenler T 2005 Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Agricultural Researches General Directorate, Marmara Animal Husbandry Research İnstitute, Trakya Universty, Faculty of Agriculture  Zootechni Depertment’s study 


Official Gazzette 2005 Directive on the principles and practice of organic agriculture, issued on the official gazzette 25841 dated june 10, which was prepared according to law of organic agriculture 5262 dated 1.12.2004


Şayan Y and Polat M 2005 Ekolojik hayvansal üretimin genel ilkeleri. Organik tarım eğitimi ders notları, İzmir


Willer H and Minou Y 2006   The World of organıc agriculture, statistics and emerging trends 2006

Received 7 September 2007; Accepted 19 March 2008; Published 3 July 2008

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