Sheep-raising in the kingdom of Valencia never attained the importance that it long held in Castile, where, through the shepherds' association of the Mesta , much of the economy was organized around it and the export of wool. Nevertheless, pastoral activity was an important adjunct to agriculture. Livestock, primarily sheep and goats, were raised for self-consumption as well as for the market. Meat, especially lamb, was a basic component of the Valencian diet, as were cheese and milk. Wool production was geared to both the domestic textile industry and export. The hides of goats and, to a lesser degree, cattle were sold to urban tanners for the manufacture of leather. Farmers utilized manure to increase crop yields; however, given the prevalence of irrigation in Valencia, this factor in agricultural production was less significant there than elsewhere.
Although the Mudejars were active in raising livestock, the extent of their pastoral pursuits was by no means extraordinary. The amount of livestock possessed by the kingdom's Muslims was roughly commensurate with their proportion of the population. Of the 931,743 head of livestock counted in the census of 1510, 28.5 percent were owned by Muslims and 61.5 percent by Christians.
Most Mudejar pastoral activity took place on seigneurial lands in the mountains bordering the alluvial plains. Muslim shepherds living in the lowlands engaged in seasonal transhumance, driving their flocks up to the mountains for the summer months. Three Muslim brothers of Alcácer explained how they took their 300 head of sheep and goats to the mountains "according to the custom and practice each year of the animals that are in the present kingdom." Unfortunately, this year (1480) armed horsemen waylaid them and stole their flock. Livestock was also grazed in the pastures surrounding the huertas . A Muslim of Albatera was permitted to graze his animals in the huerta of Orihuela. Grazing rights to unclaimed wasteland were not clearly defined, and this sometimes caused problems. When the citizens of Alcira created a new pasture that extended to the limits of the seigneury
of Masalaves, they unwittingly included in it lands allegedly held by Muslim vassals of Masalaves who had been grazing their own livestock there.
Mudejars owned livestock collectively as well as individually. Any number of families from a particular village might pool their resources for the purchase of livestock. For instance, six Muslims of Ribarroja bought animals from a merchant of Cuenca for 1654s. Whereas the livestock possessed by an individual family of limited means might be sufficient for only its own consumption, such jointly owned flocks allowed for more extensive breeding and for the production of enough wool and hides for sale on the market.
There were individual Mudejars who owned substantial flocks. Mahomat Alazrach of Benegida owned 1,100 head, and Çahat Ageg of Alcira had a flock of 500 goats. The owners of large numbers of sheep or goats were not necessarily shepherds by occupation; for them the livestock might have represented a form of capital investment. However, it seems that there were professional Mudejar shepherds who for some form of remuneration attended to large flocks comprising the animals of a number of proprietors. Ali Barrazi, a shepherd from Alasquer, related how he and Abrahim Xativi of Alcira looked after the 380 goats of Ageg b. Çahat Ageg and those owned by Xativi, while Xativi's son tended the sixty newborn goats. The shepherds were able to ascertain to whom each animal belonged by the symbol with which each owner marked his animals. In this manner Ali Barrazi recognized another ten of Ageg's goats running in the flock of a certain Mofferig. Itinerant as they were, the shepherds sometimes acted as middlemen, selling the livestock on behalf of the owners to buyers in various towns and villages.
There was a lively commerce in livestock between the towns and the satellite rural villages involving both Muslims and Christians. This is reflected in the activities of Mahomat Ageig of Alcira, who leased the butcher shop of the local morería (1473) and who, therefore, was obliged to provide a quantity of meat sufficient for the needs of the Muslim population. Ageig turned to the stockmen in the region of Alcira, purchasing forty-five sheep and fifteen goats from a Muslim of Cortes, more than 100 sheep from Bernat Cathala, a merchant of Alcudia, and still more sheep from Mahomat Vizcaya of Masalaves. The demand for meat, particularly in the towns, made livestock-raising a profitable pursuit for Christian and Muslim alike.
However, it was the commercial and industrial demand for wool and hides that gave pastoral activity its particular market orientation. Christian merchants in the capital seeking wool, either for export to Italy or
for sale to local textile manufacturers, often contracted with Mudejar stockmen for the delivery of a certain amount of wool each year. The quantities of wool involved seem to have ranged between ten and twenty arrobes (one arroba = 10.4 kilograms, or twenty-six pounds) annually. Usually the merchant would pay the Muslim the accustomed price for the wool during the winter months, and the stockman would deliver the wool to the merchant after the spring shearing. The merchant Pere d'Aragon contracted with Muslims of Alasquer and Masalalí (Valldigna) for eighteen and twelve arrobes , respectively, while the brothers Açia and Ali Çelim of Chelva had a similar contract with the merchant Anthoni Albert of Valencia.
Goat and cow hides were always needed for the manufacture of leather and for the industries dependent on the availability of leather, such as shoemaking. Muslim vassals of the Foya de Buñol were active in supplying artisans in the capital with hides. Francesch Martí, a tanner, paid Amet Caçim and Abrahim Ale 20 pounds for "all the hides of goats, both male and female, that they slaughter in 1488." Interestingly, a Muslim shoemaker of Valencia seems to have acted as an intermediary between the tanner and the stockmen.
Many Mudejars owned horses, mules, and donkeys, all valuable as draft animals and for transportation. Muslim carters and itinerant merchants, familiar figures on the Valencian scene, were always in need of such animals. They frequently purchased or rented horses and mules from Muslims and Christians. Conversely, a number of Mudejars were in a position to sell or lease their livestock to Christians. Ali Çequien of Benaguacil sold mules to five Christians of Liria and three of Castelinou for a total price of 181 pounds 5s.
Beekeeping, chicken-raising, and fishing also figure among the Mudejars' economic activities. Seigneurial Muslims usually had to render two chickens to their lord each year, and on some seigneuries lords exacted a quantity of honey from their vassals. Some Muslims owned apiaries, while others leased them from the Crown or from private individuals. The honey thus produced was sold in its pure form or as confections.
Fishing did not hold a prominent place among Mudejar occupations. Still, for Muslims living in coastal villages it was a subsidiary economic pursuit, and throughout the kingdom fish was an important dietary supplement. Mudejars owned fishing boats, for which reason they were sometimes suspected of aiding Maghriban corsairs, and there are records of Muslim fishermen purchasing fishing line. Muslims who rented lands in the coastal seigneuries of Altea and Albalat had the right to fish in the rivers and the sea, since the waters were common to all
tenants. By the midsixteenth century fishing ceased to be a Muslim pursuit because, for security reasons, the authorities prohibited the Moriscos from inhabiting villages near the coast.