This study is part of a multidisciplinary research to describe and analyze the small-ruminant production system in the Northeast of Brazil. Twenty-seven small-ruminant producers were studied in the sertao of the state of Ceara to identify and describe land-use and animal-management schemes. No two production systems studied were exactly alike. However, 16 different management strategies were identified and structured according to ecological environment, grazing resources, crop-residue availability and farm infrastructure. Two common features are the interaction of crop and livestock production and the multispecies character of animal herds. The study compares producer's strategies for coping with the drought in regard to the herd composition, stocking rates, animal condition, supplementation and water supply in both 1980 and 1983. It was observed that farms that had cattle, sheep and goat herds performed relatively better during the drought period than farms with cattle and sheep only.
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The authors wish to thank Luiz Carlos Lopes Freire, John Malechek and John De Boer for their support and advice throughout the course of this research, Essie Raun for editorial assistance, Tammie Chism for word processing assistance, Venetta Vaughn and Melissa D. Beck for artwork and Drs Enrique Ospina and Ronald E. Sosebee for their valuable comments. Partial support for this research was provided by the United States Agency for International Development Title XII Small Ruminants Collaborative Research Support Program under Grant No. AID/DSAN/XII/G-0049 in collaboration with the Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA) through the National Goat Research Center, Sobral, Ceara, Brazil.