Sheep have walked the Crau steppe since Antiquity as proven by the countless Roman sheepfold ruins. It is still a prime land for breeding transhumant sheep in Basse Provence.
There’s no surface water here so wells were dug to give the sheep water and low walls were built to protect them from the often brisk Mistral wind.
The sheep graze in Salon’s Crau Verte meadows in winter (which are irrigated by Adam de Craponne) then in the arid Coussouls de Crau (Crau steppe). The flocks are moved to the Alps in early summer to graze on fresh grass on the summer pastures.
Pastoralism methods are taught at the Domaine du Merle, the Ministry of Agriculture’s official college. The property is a star in regional sheep breeding. Students study fodder crop production, transhumance and the potential uses of Arles Merino sheep (as a pure breed or cross) in an area covering 450 hectares (including 50ha of farmland, 120ha of wet meadows and 250ha of coussouls or steppe).