4 August 2021

UNIMONT took part in “The Ciuta sheep in Valtellina: a bet to win”

It is small, light, agile and undemanding, extremely well adapted to living in the mountains, transforming poor fodder into meat and wool: it is the Ciuta, the smallest breed of sheep in the Alps, protagonist of the conference “The Ciuta sheep in Valtellina: a bet to win”, which was held on 3rd July 2021 in Santa Caterina Valfurva.

Together with other autochthonous breeds with limited consistency, such as Brogna, Lamont, Alpagota or Sambucana, the Ciuta sheep represents a resource of our Alpine livestock heritage. With the aim of supporting the economic, landscape and social value of sheep breeds in danger of extinction, also supporting the sustainability of Alpine territories, the Valtellina and Valchiavenna Ecoturism Association organized a conference entitled “The Ciuta sheep in Valtellina: a bet to win”. The meeting was successful in bringing together breeders, veterinarians, researchers, representatives of the textile industry and many small artisans, knitters and weavers full of enthusiasm and desire to recover and valorize the varied and precious genetic heritage of our sheep breeds.

The UNIMONT – University of Milan centre, represented by Prof. Silvana Mattiello, participated in the meeting highlighting the merits of these breeds in terms of adaptation to the difficult mountain environment: thanks to this evolutionary adaptation, in fact, local breeds can live and produce in a situation of equilibrium with the environment, while in the same situations the well-being of more specialized breeds could be more at risk.

The conference focused on the wool supply chain, highlighting the difficulties of small producers in finding washing and processing centers willing to deal with limited quantities of product and hence tried to encourage the creation of a network of producers who can collaborate to identify outlets to satisfy this need.

The work continued at a fast pace, but was followed up to the end with great interest, thanks to the enthusiasm of the speakers. The artisans’ market that was held on Sunday morning represented the right epilogue to the event, showing craft products derived from the processing of wool: sweaters, gloves, hats, vests and much more, produced by enhancing the natural colors of the fleece or by adding natural dyes.

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