The sectors of great economic interest are sheep and goat farming and beekeeping. Bovine animals are few in the island, while the other sectors cover the needs of family consumption.
It is worth to mention that there are two snail farms of open type in an area of 5ha and 5.5ha respectively, which operate with temporary installation permit. With the completion of the procedures the farms will receive the final permission.
Sheep and goat Farming
According to the Veterinary Register, the island has 47 holdings and are reared 11.062 sheep and goats.The sheep are 3.444 while the goats are much more and amounted over 7.618.
The structure of the farms indicates that most of the units are small but there are also 18 large farms (more than 300 animals) that have modernization potential.
The feeding of the animals is based mainly on grazing. Supplementary feed is given in the period of over-wintering. Astypalaia operates two feed marketing outlets. 468ha are cultivated for feed production.
Each flock stays permanently in the same area throughout the year, with negative effects on the environment that gradually lead to degradation of pastures. In 2003, a study has been carried out regarding the pasture capacity and the management of pastures in Astypalaia, on the initiative of Region of South Aegean, in order the island to participate in the Extensification of Cattle Farming Programme.
The legume growing focuses mainly on barley for hay. The breeders of the island are the owners and managers of the livestock, but they lack of land, which they are obliged to rent from third parties. It should be pointed out that a large percentage of the pastures in Astypalaia is private.
With the Development programmes of Community Support Framework (CSF) a significant number of small economic scale investment projects were implemented, that contributed in the improvement of livestock industry, notably in relation to the living conditions of people and animals (water supply) and the easier movement
More specifically, in Astypalaia and the adjacent islets were installed 13 metal prefabricated tanks of 50 m3, with rainwater collectors and one trough per tank. The tanks were built in the following locations:
(I) In the desert islet of Sirna, Kounoupoi, Ofeidousa and Koutsomitis
(Ii) In Thymadari and Selladi on the island of Astypalaia
(Iii) In Mageiras, Pervoles, Vysi, Vounia, Katsellanos, Charakia and Marmaro on the island of Astypalaia
The livestock farming is strongly oriented towards meat production, while the milk production remains at a low level. The conservation of such a large number of animals without the proper exploitation of the flocks is achieved in particular due to financial aids of the EU in the framing sector. The existing system will change with the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy and the adaption of the farmers in the new circumstances is essential. On the island there is a slaughterhouse that according to the Veterinary Service, the slaughters in 2012 was 4.055 kids, 296 goats, 2.413 sheep and 157 ewes. The meat is placed on the local market but also on the markets of Athens.
Astypalaia’s honey have been known since ancient times. On the island there are 49 beekeepers with a total number of 2.989 cells according to the apiaries Register of the Department of Agricultural Economics. The majority of beekeepers maintain a small number of cells, aiming at obtaining additional income. The Honey production is small because there is no blossom throughout the year, however the produced thyme honey is of excellent quality. The beekeepers of Astypalaia prefer the static beekeeping because of the high cost of moving.