04 July 2015 | Online since 2003

Eight strategies for efficient and sustainable livestock farming



6 March 2014 05:33:22|Cattle,News,Pigs,Sheep

Eight strategies for efficient and sustainable livestock farming


Eight strategies to make cows, sheep and other cud-chewing, or ruminant, livestock a more sustainable part of the food supply are outlined by Rothamsted Research scientists in a Comment piece in Nature this week. The Comment was led by Mark Eisler and Michael Lee, University of Bristol UK and Graeme Martin, University of Western Australia, Perth.

Raising animals for milk and meat is often considered at odds with the challenge of feeding a growing human population, but there are health benefits to eating animal protein. Furthermore, cows, sheep and some other livestock can be fed grass and crop residues that humans cannot eat, the authors point out. “We must figure out how to keep livestock in ways that work best for individuals, communities and the planet,” say the authors.

Working to boost yields from local breeds makes more sense in the long term than importing breeds that are successful elsewhere, Eisler and colleagues write. For example, kept under controlled conditions and in temperate climates in Europe and North America, Holstein dairy cows can produce 30 litres of milk a day. Tens of thousands, at least, of these animals have been exported to Asia and Africa in attempts to alleviate malnutrition. But exposed to hot climates and tropical diseases, the cows produce much less milk, and require more expensive care and feeding than native breeds do.

Simple dietary supplements can help to boost productivity. These alter microbes in the rumen to improve animals’ nutrition, meaning that in some cases, animals can produce more milk and meat for proportionally less greenhouse gas.

Finally, the authors explain how a network of research farms — known as farm platforms, exemplified at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, UK; Future Farm, Perth Australia, and Silent Valley, Kerala, India — is starting to evaluate economic and environmental benefits of these and other farming practices.

Professor John Crawford leads Rothamsted’s Sustainable Systems Strategic Programme, which is strategically funded by the BBSRC, and he said: “In order to answer questions about sustainability of agriculture, scientists are increasingly dependent on the too few remaining long-term research platforms around the world. This paper is a welcome reminder of the need for long-term strategic investment to secure future food supply.

Only by studying the behaviour of the whole production system, including total inputs, total outputs and its productivity over sufficiently long time can we eliminate unintended consequences such as intolerable levels of soil degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

North Wyke leads the way for next generation platforms capable of providing all the necessary data, and the global network ensures the widest possible translation of research into practice change”.

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Executive Director, Science, said: “It’s great to see the benefits of BBSRC’s national capability funding being recognised in this way. North Wyke Farm Platform and the other BBSRC national capabilities are valuable resources for UK bioscience, helping world-class research take place to deliver economic and social benefits for all.”

Download




Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


Start Date: 1 July 2015
Job for Dairy Assistant with tractor skills...>>>> Near Birmingham

Family farm milking 180 cows twice per day through a modern parlour need an assistant to help with all aspects of the farm. Y...


Start Date: 18 June 2015
Farmer in  Gorebridge, Scotland  is looking for a livestock General Farm Worker

Part time regular work 2/3 days a week [and full time in busy times (lambing, sowing, silage, hay, harvest)] which will invol...


Start Date: 20 June 2015
Baler/Chaser/Telehandler operators needed for Harvest 2015: job in Norfolk 

Large scale straw contractor requires skilled and experienced operators to join our harvest team. 

We Need:

2x H...


Start Date: 3 July 2015
C171: Ruminant Support Specialist

De Lacy Executive is currently searching for a Ruminant Support Specialist to promote our international client within the Sou...


Start Date: 18 June 2015
Job for Harvest Staff>>> Dunmow

Harvest Staff required from July to September on a 1300 acre West Essex Arable Enterprise. Duties will include grain carting,...





Top stories you may have missed
5 June 2015 | Cattle

A strong pound and increased red meat imports coupled with a plentiful dome...


5 June 2015 | Arable

Depression is affecting Wales' farming industry and there is a need to use ...


5 June 2015 | Arable

With just one week to go before the final judging and announcement of the w...


5 June 2015 | Finance

A rural law expert has highlighted the importance of good succession planni...


5 June 2015 | Farmshops

A south Yorkshire dairy farming family is pulling out all the stops to prom...


4 June 2015 | Finance

Predicting what is going to happen to wheat prices is a challenge, but in s...


4 June 2015 | Agri Safety

A Lancashire based livestock theft prevention scheme is aiming to go nation...


4 June 2015 | News

A female farmer has been recognised by the farming and conservation industr...


4 June 2015 | Finance

The new Conservative government appears to be preparing to implement cuts f...


4 June 2015 | Arable

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will have mobile support units at the follo...