Livestock Research for Rural Development 25 (7) 2013 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Comparative analysis of economic and institutional configuration of the sheep production in south of Brazil and Uruguay

J G A Viana and P D Waquil*

Federal University of Pampa, 97573-590 Santana do Livramento – RS, Brazil
* Postgraduate Program in Agribusiness and Rural Development, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


This article aims to analyze sheep raising and the economic-institutional profile for sheep producers at Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and Uruguay, so as to make a comparison of sector configuration on both regions, pointing out similarities and differences existing in production systems. In order to characterize sheep raising, a field research was utilized, with survey in a sample of 120 producers from Rio Grande do Sul and 80 from Uruguay. Data analysis followed descriptive statistic techniques and the use of parametric hypothesis tests, through Student’s t-test, ANOVA, Tukey’s test, and F-test.

Similarities were evident in socioeconomic, productive and institutional profiles, according to samples from both regions. The sheep production is based on a variety of land structures, with concomitant commerce of wool and sheep meat. Sheep flocks on rural establishments present diverse sizes, with predominant breeding of dual-purposed races, beef cattle being the main activity performed in an integrated form. Both researched regions decided to raise sheep not only due to economic impulse, but also through family heritage, production routines and family influence to maintain the activity at rural establishments. Lastly, producers’ motivations were found not to be fundamental only on maximizing profits, but also in individual institutional characteristics.

Key words: agribusiness, agricultural economics, ovine, production systems


Sheep activity presents great importance, socioeconomic-wise, to the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, as it does in Uruguay, a country dependent on production and industrialization of beef, sheep meat and wool for its economy’s growth.

In a production context of both regions, sheep production emerges as an alternative for medium and small livestock farmers, especially for the possibility of integrated production with beef cattle, milk cattle, forestry, orcharding and wine. Tendencies for sheep market are promising.  

According to FAO (2005), meat demand in developing countries is boosted by demographic growth, urbanization and variations on nutrition preferences from consumers. This way, breeding double purposed ovine (for wool and meat) that are predominant in southern Brazil and across Uruguay, may tend to both the demand for differentiated sheep meat, as well as quality wool. 

Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay are regions characterized for historical, cultural, economical and political factors similar (Oliven 1989). Throughout the last five decades a close connection between development agents (economic, political and social) was found, aiming to strengthen sheep production while facing the sector’s crisis. Besides, both regions are linked to the historical formation of sheep raising, which generated common habits and goals. However, some economic and institutional issues related to sheep production are distinct, and require a better analysis and comprehension. 

With this perspective, according to Ribeiro (2003), the unawareness towards the imposed reality on sheep production after the wool crisis does not allow the elaboration of a development plan for the activity. Therefore, there is a need to clearly identify what’s the profile of a sheep farmer at the 21st century, its productive and institutional characteristics fundamental to portray a contemporary socioeconomic frame of the ovine sector of both regions. 

Thus, the aim of this article was to analyze of sheep raising and the economic-institutional profile of sheep breeders in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and Uruguay, with the purpose of comparing both sector configurations, indicating similarities and differences existing at the currently adopted production settings. 

MERCOSUR has generated a process of competition in the meat market in the region. The sheep industry in Uruguay became competitive, enabling the country to the position of leading exporter of sheep meat to Brazil. In the period from 2002 to 2009, Brazil imported from the neighboring country somewhere around 90% of the total annual imports of sheep meat (Barchet and Freitas 2012). Thus, considering the importance and potential of sheep production chain in Brazil, justified the comparative study in order to identify the similarities and differences between the configurations of the sheep production of Rio Grande do Sul, the main producing region of Brazil, and Uruguay, the main export player in the wool and sheep meat market in South America. Also, the study will contribute to understanding the economic configuration of the sheep industry in the two regions, generating useful information for the formulation of public and private policies to incentive production and competitiveness of sector.

Material and Methods

This article has as characteristic the use of comparative method, with quantitative research techniques. To reach the proposed objective, a field research was utilized, with questionnaire application in a sheep producers’ sample, as to obtain the population’s rendering of ovine properties at Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and Uruguay.  

The sample size was calculated with the technique “Sampling for Estimating a Population Proportion”, described in Anderson et al (2005), according to equation 1. For the calculus, confidence level and desirable margin of error were utilized, values that, according to Anderson et al (2005), in most cases, are respectively 90% or more and 10% or less, and the proportion of a population’s characteristic that one wants to sample. 



Where: n = sample size; z = z table value for a given confidence level; p = proportion of a population’s characteristic to sample with; q = (1-p); ϵ= margin of error. 

At the proposed case, the characteristic used was the number of establishments used for raising/breeding sheep, meaning its proportion amidst the total of rural establishments (p). Both values for this data were obtained with agricultural census of Brazil (IBGE, 2006) and Uruguay (MGAP 2000).  

For both samples the confidence level was of 90% (z=1.64). For Rio Grande do Sul, the margin of error was of 5% and at Uruguay, due to operational costs and production dispersal, a margin of error of 10%. Thus the calculation results in a sample of 94 sheep farmers for Rio Grande do Sul (n=93.2) and 68 sheep farmers for Uruguay (n=67.3). During the survey, it was possible to apply more questionnaires than the samples suggested, a total of 120 answered in Rio Grande do Sul and 80 in Uruguay. 

To keep population’s representativeness, the applied questionnaires were distributed according to the concentration level of ovine production of both regions. The concentration was identified with data from sheep flocks, segmented in seven regions for Rio Grande do Sul (IBGE 2006) and four regions within Uruguay (IICA 2006). The numerical distribution for all applied questionnaires in both regions is shown at Table 1.

Table 1: Concentration of sheep production and questionnaire distribution in Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay.


          Total Number of Flock**

Applied Questionnaires





  Rio Grande do Sul








































North shore










Shore and Center










* Regions at Uruguay based on IICA (2006); Regions at Rio Grande do Sul adapted from IBGE (2006).

** DICOSE (2010); IBGE (2006)

The application of questionnaires was made from January to May, 2011, in different towns/departments from both regions, through personal contact with sheep farmers, meetings/fairs for producers, indication of supportive organizations such as Empresa de Assistência Técnica e Extensão Rural (EMATER), Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA), SecretariadoUruguaio de la Lana, Plan Agropecuario and the support of Rural Associations. 

The questionnaire intended to characterize:

a)                  Productive/economic profile of sheep farmers in terms of: area of the property, agricultural activities developed, number of animals, sheep’s specific breed and commercialized ovine products;


b)                  Institutional profile of breeders (habits, experiences, decisions, motivations, etc.) in terms of: time developing sheep production, if the activity was a family heritage, the motivations for raising sheep, involvement with supportive organizations, projects in sheep production for future generations and future expectations for production. 

After research, all data was organized and tabulated for comparative analysis. To characterize production and institutional-economic profile of sheep farmers in Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, descriptive statistics were utilized (location and variability measurements and frequency distributions). Yet, productive data were presented in histograms to compare the variables. 

Comparative and inferential analysis of data was accomplished through hypothesis tests, for mean comparisons of productive variables of two regions through Student’s t-test, and for variance comparisons, through the F test, based on the Fisher-Snedecor distribution. The types and degree of motivation of sheep farmers were compared within each region (Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay) using the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Tukey test.

Results and Discussion

Sheep production of both regions is done, fundamentally, by male genre, with varying age structure. In spite of being a traditional activity, centennial both in southern Brazil and Uruguay, sheep production finds farmers of diverse age stratums, even if more than half of sheep farmers present an age until 52 years old.

In terms of production, sheep raising is a type of ranching developed in over 85% of the rural properties inquired integrated with beef cattle. This joint effort grants advantages over single production, such as separate sources of income in different periods of time, favoring influx throughout the year, a reduction on fixed costs for property, a better use of human capital for activities with complementary handle, reduction of parasitic infestation of flocks and a smaller risk when it comes to price fluctuation of a single activity. 

In Uruguay, for Cardellino (2008), sheep raising is an activity integrated to beef cattle, forming mixed livestock systems, with only a few exceptions being systems truly specialized in single production of sheep meat. Both researched regions encompass grain cultures as a primary production activity, alongside sheep breeding. In Rio Grande do Sul, 23.3% of sheep farmers also develop soybean, and 19.2% have a parallel focus on rice. In Uruguay these percentages fall, respectively, to 11.3% and 7.5%. It is noted that Rio Grande do Suls sheep farmers seek more diversification in terms of activities outside beef cattle, when compared with Uruguayans, a fact supported by 12.5% of other producers from the southern Brazilian state who focus on activities other than those mentioned.

Figure 1: Agricultural activities developed jointly with the sheep production in the properties researched.

Data from integrated production corroborates the vision of Oliveira and Alves (2003) of the existing potential for ovine to be bred with other animal species, as well as alongside agriculture and other arboreal, normally explored by smaller rural modules. For the authors, raising sheep with other productions close to it allows for a better use of land and pasture, showing still mutual benefit for distinct species. 

Regardless of a system being diversified or specialized, there is still always one agricultural activity that is considered the main economic exploit (Figure 2), meaning that there is one breed or culture that ordains production activities and has priority on the investments. Beef cattle is the main activity developed at most rural properties in Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, being a part of over 60% of researched properties. Thus, it is confirmed that for most livestock farmers, sheep raising is a secondary activity. For the producers that did not give up sheep activity, the market changes brought about with the crisis during the 90’s were determinant to place sheep farming on the background, to make sure the income from agriculture would be less susceptible to wool market uncertainties and fluctuations in demand of sheep meat. However, Viana and Silveira (2009) made an economic study concluding that sheep production, even if explored in a secondary form, contributes significantly to total revenue of cattle properties analyzed with diversified productive systems.

Figure 2: The main agricultural* activity developed by sheep farmers researched of Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay.

On the other hand, 32.9% of Uruguayan producers have sheep raising as the main developed activity, demonstrating that, in spite of the wool crisis effects, other motivations and economic opportunities keep the activity as main source of income for a considerable amount of producers. At Rio Grande do Sul the same can be said of only 16.9% of producers, 10.2% yet that focus mainly on rice production. 

Sheep production and other agricultural activities are developed in varying production systems. Table 2 presents a comparison of means (Student’s t-test) and variances (F-test of Fisher-Snedecor) of productive variables for producers researched in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and Uruguay. Table 2 helps with discussing the comparative results, presenting values for median, standard deviation and coefficient of variation for all productive variables.

Table 2: Comparison of means and variances of productive variables in sheep production in Rio Grande do Sul (RS) and Uruguay (UY).










Age (years)







Area (hectares)







Flock (heads)







Stocking by hectare







Time of Activity (years)







* p-value for student’s t-test and F-test for two independent samples.

Mean age of sheep farmers of both regions, as can be seen, ranges between 50 and 53 years, without a significant difference among them. However, there is a difference in age variation for the sample of both regions, up to 5% significance, indicating larger age dispersion with sheep farmers of Rio Grande do Sul, the degree of variability measured by standard deviation and variation coefficient presented on Table 3. 

Concerning the rural properties area, no significant difference is observed between regions, presenting a mean structure of 850 to 1,200 hectares. However, it must be said that the elevated variability of data from areas in rural establishments that provide sheep farming, reducing the median of data (Table 3) for both Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay to 440 and 500 hectares, respectively. Additionally, a significant difference was observed at the data variance in the area (P<0.01), indicating a larger heterogeneity in terms of land at Uruguay (Table 3). 

It’s possible to infer that sheep raising is a cattle activity developed at the most varied land structures, being a source of income and subsistence just as much to small, familiar properties as it is to grand, employer-based developments. This is evident with the distribution of sheep farmers researched across several area stratums. Even though the modal class of area for sheep breeders at Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay lies in the interval between 351 to 700 hectares, the Brazilian state presents 25.5% of sheep farmers with a maximum area of 150 hectares. This corroborates with Ribeiro (2003) that a great number of familiar cattle breeders within Rio Grande do Sul make of sheep raising an important activity, not only as an income generator but especially at composing the family’s diet. When the interval is extended up to 350 hectares, 40.8% of sheep farmers inRio Grande do Sul and 35.9% of Uruguayans fall into this category, reinforcing even further the importance of sheep raising at small and medium-sized properties. 

The intensity of sheep production and the importance of breeding in rural establishments may be observed through the quantification of sheep flocks in the researched properties. Means for the productive variable of sheep flock present a significant difference between Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay. A bigger flock per producer ratio is found with the Uruguayans, a mean of 1,239.5 heads per establishment. InRio Grande do Sul, the smaller concentration is represented by a mean and median of 456.79 and 200 heads, respectively. Modal class of Rio Grande do Suls distribution was an interval from 41 to 120 heads per property, a distinct value from the higher frequency accounted for Uruguay, of 281 to 600 ovine heads per farmer. It was verified that 55.1% of sheep farmers from the southern Brazilian state present of a flock with 280 ovine, tops, the same situation at Uruguay representing a total of only 25.7% of those inquired of this production level. Since sheep farms are spread all around Rio Grande do Sul, the heterogeneity found is mostly linked to regional differences of land, relief, vegetation and potential for agricultural activities, these factors contributing to an extensive production through concentration of state sheep flocks in large squads, while the north and northeast sections of the state focus on small and medium sheep production for subsistence and commerce of the exceeding products. 

Bigger flocks stand out at Uruguay, represented for 43.5% of sheep farmers owning over 600 heads. There’s also a significant difference with the flock data variance (P<0.01), indicating a larger variability of heads per property for the Uruguayan sample. 

The mean of stocking by hectare for both regions is similar, from 1.12 to 1.43 heads per hectare. On the other hand, there’s a significant difference for mean stocking variance (P<0.05), indicating a bigger stocking variability at farms in Rio Grande do Sul. This demonstrates that sheep raising is developed with different degrees of intensity in the Brazilian state, a fact corroborated by the median’s reduction for stocking: 0.57 heads per hectare. 

Rural producers of both regions have been developing sheep production for (mean) 36.9 and 35.6 years (inRio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, respectively), with no significant difference in data dispersion, representing young producers (less than ten years of work) as well as producers with large experience in the activity (over fifty years of ovine breeding). However, similarities are verified inthe distribution of frequency inRio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, the modal class in the stratum of “over fifty years” developing sheep farming, for 22.7% and 22.8% of researched farmers, respectively. 

It is also noted the existence of a significant number of producers with up to twenty years of experience (32.8% at Rio Grande do Sul and 39.2% at Uruguay). This class represents farmers that began activity after the international wool crisis, demonstrating certain representativeness from sheep farmers and their capacity to change according to the influence of times.

Table 3: Measures of central tendency and dispersion of productive variables in sheep production for Rio Grande do Sul (RS) and Uruguay (UY).











Age (years)







Area (hectares)







Flock (heads)







Stocking by hectare







Time in activity (years)







Flocks from both regions are commercially explored by derived products in the activity. Even with the international wool crisis during the 90’s, 93.28% of sheep farmers from Rio Grande do Sul and all the farmers from the Uruguayan sample sell wool to the consumer market. This illustrates that, despite the drastic fall on fiber prices, there was no waiver on the product itself; on the contrary, nearly all the remaining farmers produce and sell wool. Still, the changes on the market made sheep meat an important product as well, causing 76.5% of Rio Grande do Sul’s producers and 80% of Uruguayans to negotiate it on market. Thus, it’s evident that sheep industry during the 21st century became an activity with two main commercial products, contrary to the predominantly wool-centered format before the crisis. To Neto (2004), there is space for mutual production and commercialization of wool and sheep meat, making possible to have multiple gains in a concomitant production. 

Appearance and consolidation of sheep meat as a commercial product of sheep production relates directly with the profile of certain breeds of both regions. The double-purpose breed Corriedale is the most common genotype for Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, seen in 50% and 71.4% of researched producers respectively. Following up comes Texel breed (meat-oriented), with 27.5% and 13% of the respective producers. These results, concerning Uruguay in particular, corroborate Cardellino (2008) when he affirms that double purpose breeds are dominant on ovine systems of that country, its majority based in Corriedale. 

There’s a more diverse type of breeding in Rio Grande do Sul. While double purpose is still predominant, some breeds specific for sheep meat can be found at the state, making up to 39.2% of producers’ choice, breeds such as Texel and Ile de France. These results back up the notes from Oliveira and Alves (2003), stating that during the crisis in the 90’s some European breeds were introduced, such as Ile de France, Texel and Suffolk, specialized for sheep meat production. 

Table 4 presents the distribution of absolute frequency and percentage for the main ovine products commercialized by the researched properties. In Rio Grande do Sul, sheep meat is the main product with 50.43% of researched samples. This data demonstrates the new structure of sheep industry in southern Brazil after the international wool crisis, focused on quality sheep meat. The lack of balance during the 90’s modified the production’s objective; systems were revised, flock productivity became crucial, reproductive management was given more importance as producers sought to eliminate a category of animals specifically bred for wool production and a bigger investment was given towards sheep cattle. All this restructure brought about the meat-oriented breeds, later on an improvement for double purpose ones. With the mixed breed’s maintenance, wool was kept important in ovine farms, still the product with more market meaning for 40.87% of researched farmers. This means there was no complete rupture with routines and productive objectives previous to the changes, merely an adaptation to a new economic setting, to conciliate wool production with the rising sheep meat market.

Table 4: Main ovine product commercialized through sheep farming properties at Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay.

Main Product*

Rio Grande do Sul






Sheep meat




















Sheep milk





* There was incidence of producers acknowledging more than one main product, which causes the added percentages to surpass 100%.

The partial rupture of production objectives may be seen closer with Uruguayan farmers. For 47.3% of those researched wool is still the main product commercialized at rural properties. However, despite the continuity of the fiber as a main source of income, there has been significant change on how wool is produced after the unbalanced decade of 1990. The “Secretariado Uruguayo de la Lana”, organization support the production of wool, developed projects to perfect wool flocks in order to produce finer wool threads, so far neglected in the productive environment. Wool’s devaluation indicated a new path: finer threads oriented for international markets, with superior prices. From these changes sprung projects such as “Provecto Merino Fino del Uruguay”, to seize existent potentials and invest on the best return for a high quality product (INIA 2000; INIA 2007). 

In contrast, a part of sheep farmers saw a rupture in their productive processes, represented with 35.1% of the sample, which indicates that sheep meat is the primary product for commerce in this activity. The change caused, at Uruguay, a growth of a system barely utilized at that point: finished lambs for slaughter. To Cardellino (2008), this system capitalized sheep farmers and brought economic advantages through the purchase of light lambs for termination. 

The international wool crisis also modified the environment and institutional profile of the producers, like habits, values, collective actions, production routines and motivations.

Table 5: Percentage of positive affirmation for institutional variables in sheep farming inRio Grande do Sul and Uruguay.

Institutional Variables

Rio Grande do Sul


Switch of ovine breed*

33.6 %

30.0 %

Change in productive techniques*

50.0 %

51.0 %

Sheep raising as a heritageoffamily

70.0 %

60.8 %

Continuity for future generations

83.8 %

80.5 %

Organizational involvement **

38.3 %

35.4 %

Intent to keep/expand production

96.6 %

98.7 %

* The reference for switches and changes being the international wool price crisis in 1990.

** Cited farmers with medium to high involvement with organizations that support sheep raising.

It’s possible to see that 33.6% of sheep farmers from Rio Grande do Sul and 30% of Uruguayan ones switched or introduced a new kind of ovine breed after the wool price crisis. This means that for these particular farmers there’s a link between the wool market’s lack of balance and their productive decisions, focused mainly at the bred sheep and their potential for production. There’s a similar exchange in terms of percentage of both regions, indicating a common productive behavior when facing changes with sheep industry markets. Changes induced an adaptation of producers from both markets, especially due to the appreciation for sheep meat and the need to combine wool production with farms for young animals for slaughter. 

To what concerns the modification of techniques and productive routines, a similar behavior on both researched locations is evident. For half the producers, international wool crisis modified the way to raise sheep. This result demonstrates a change in the productive structure of a significant quantity of farmers, fundamentally associated to the rise of sheep meat as an important market product. 

The change in routines suggests the need of a change of habit, so far only focused at wool production. Thus the unbalance of the 90’s induced a change in sheep production for the farmers maintaining the activity. Within this perspective, the modifications in routine became one of the determinant aspects for the sheep industry’s modification after the year 2000, a behavior that represents the adaptation of sheep production to the new market conditions. 

Both researched regions, most the sheep raising has its origin in family heritage, represented by 70% of sheep farmers in Rio Grande do Sul and 60.8% at Uruguay. To these producers, the decision of creating and evolving in sheep raising was not only based on economy, an unique view for maximizing profits with allocation of scarce resources, but also a heritage of productive routines and family influence to keep the activity in rural establishments. 

This characteristic of family heirlooms present at the majority of researched farms indicates the presence of institutional motivations, linked to habits passed from generation to generation, that molded the sector’s configuration when facing unbalanced times. 

Most sheep farmers also believe in the activity’s continuity for the next generations of the family, respectively 83.76% and 80.52% at Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay. Even with the market’s instability, a preponderant share of producers from both regions believe the market itself has continuity. This is associated mostly with the significant quantity of producers coming from their family’s previous activities within the sector. 

It must be pointed out that even though sheep production, for many of the researched producers, is still a secondary agricultural activity, there is the preoccupation that it must be followed by future generations. It enforces the concept that the structural changes of the sector, influenced by the wool crisis, may have been withstood also due to factors and motivations linked to the heredity of production. This puts in evidence the hereditary institutional character of sheep farming inRio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, putting the institutional variables on par with economic aspects of administering the activity. 

To what concerns organizational involvement, less than half of sheep farmers present medium to high participation in organizations that support sheep productive chain. This similar behavior between producers of both regions limits joint actions that would favor scaled economy, cost reduction and productive chain coordination to fight unbalance at the sheep markets. 

Despite the impact of wool prices’ crisis, it is evident that nearly all of the researched producers don’t assume a diminishment of ovine breeding. 96.6% of producers at Rio Grande do Sul and 98.7% of Uruguayan ones expect to maintain or increase production of sheep, establishing in the future a behavior of strengthening and restructuring of the sheep sector. This suggests a reversion at the tendency of fall identified after the wool crisis. 

Sheep production markets present a growing appreciation by the end of the 2000 decade. Prices paid to the producers of sheep meat have reached record values after 2010, “overvalued” when compared to prices of bovine, pork and poultry (Souza 2011). Naturally, under a neoclassic economic perspective, the motivation of a firm or individual, producer and offered of an item well valued on the market would be linked fundamentally to the economic advantages provided by such a market, meaning its maximizing of profits coming from its unbounded rationality. However, even with this “overvalue”, the motivations for researched farmers of both regions are not exclusively based on maximum profit of the activity, but also in institutional characteristics of the firms and individuals inserted in sheep industry.

Table 6: Types of motivation and its degree of importance* in the development of sheep farming for researched properties inRio Grande do Sul and Uruguay.


Rio Grande do Sul



Personal Satisfaction






Personal Satisfaction






Family Tradition


Family Tradition


* Importance scale varies from 1 to 4, where 4 represents the highest motivation and 1 the lowest.

** Means with different letters indicate significant difference between motivations (P<0.01) – inside the regions – with the Tukey’s Test.

In Rio Grande do Sul, personal satisfaction was pointed as the main motivation for raising sheep, based on the analysis of absolute values of importance. However, it should be pointed out that there’s no significant difference in the degrees of importance between personal satisfaction and profit. These results confirm that institutional aspects of a productive environment present the same importance as economic aspects in motivation and direction for sheep farming. Another important motivation is the production of sheep with the purpose of subsistence/personal consumption of rural properties, a value that presents no significant difference when compared to other motivational means when it comes to Rio Grande do Sul

In Uruguay, the motivation based on profit is identified as highest priority in absolute values. However, motivation by profit represents a desire, a search, not necessarily an act of maximizing. Motivations like origin in family tradition stand out as well, another institutional aspect to stimulate the economic activity. 

The quantitative results of motivations presented and discussed confirm the conclusions pointed out by Aguilera (2011) that through qualitative research from interviewing sheep farmers from Rio Grande do Sul, said that sheep farming is an economic activity heavily influenced from custom, tradition and family values of the individuals it employs. At reports presented by Aguilera (2011), motivation exclusively on profit is discarded, demonstrating that developing sheep industry goes beyond issues of merely an economic standpoint, to a certain quantity of farmers, even, “a way of life”, “a passion born inside the family”, and being “a profitable activity with a passionate, inherited side to it” (Aguilera 2011). 

Additionally, the parity of importance of institutional and economic aspects to motivate sheep farmers and the relation between habits, through personal satisfaction, customs and traditions, gets even more highlighted while facing a period of “overvalue” in economic terms for sheep industry. 

Under a general aspect of discussed results, a similar behavior is found both in Rio Grande do Sul and Uruguay to what concerns the current characterization of the sector and the economic-institutional profile of sheep farmers. According to Neto (2004), sheep farming will only advance in productive and market terms if the producers are apt and aware of the necessity of change. Thus, changing refers to the institution of new habits, production routines, the attention to demand shifts and opportunities, adapting to unbalances inherent to the economic. These characteristics of an economic environment were found at the evolution of the sheep production inRio Grande do Sul and Uruguay, through the comparative analysis of the sector’s configuration.



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Received 24 April 2013; Accepted 17 June 2013; Published 1 July 2013

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