Catalonia School Trains Students for Shepherd Jobs

Greener pastures for would-be shepherds in Spain

Sheep have grazed mountainous northeastern Spain for 6 million years, but 20th century industrialization led to a dramatic decline in the number of shepherds who tended them. For the last six years, Catalonia’s School of Shepherds has worked to keep the ancient profession from disappearing.

Students start with a month of classroom study in a rural home in the Pyrenees. Then they undergo four months of practical training with a veteran shepherd, who gradually gives them responsibilities with a herd. About 80 percent of students complete the course, and more than 60 percent go on to work in livestock farming.

A new shepherd on a farm that provides food and lodging earns about €680 ($936) a month, and €900 to €1,200 without room or board. A mountain shepherd—who may tend thousands of animals in a busy summer—earns as much as €2,000 a month.

Students learn how to move herds to higher or lower pastures in a continual search for fresh grass as the growing season progresses.

Photograph by Joan Alvado/Nar Photos/Redux

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