Swiss College of Agriculture, Zollikofen

Feeding systems for the implementation of mountain milk strategies

The project �Mountain Milk� ran by the Swiss College of Agriculture did not focus on technical aspects of production. But the production processes have influenced the strategic planning activities and they will be very important in implementing the strategies. Both major strategies for dairy production, the “added value” approach and the “growth” approach, are therefore crucially dependant from the milk buyer and processor and his strategy. But for an appropriate farm management the individual natural and structural conditions are of crucial importance. The more challenging and particular the natural conditions are, the more demanding and specific will the managerial tasks turn out. Apart from the lower grassland yields, the numerous complex strategic decisions about the most appropriate management form are influenced by slope, land consolidation and distances between fields. Farms with a lot of consolidated but not very flat grassland close to the stable will tend to opt for full grazing with summer accentuated milk production as long as this is not restricted by the milk buyer. The further away and the more parcelled plots are, the more the farm will tend to develop towards winter accentuated production with calving in autumn or early winter. As far as allowed by topography, efficient and relatively cheap lowland mechanisation will be used and the more expensive mountain mechanisation will be limited to steep plots. Mountain farms usually have plots with different slope, parcelling and distance to the stable. In consequence, most farms will end up somewhere between the two production systems. This makes it very difficult to put forward generally valid recommendations for the choice of the most appropriate production strategy. The problem of very variable land and correspon­ding management restrictions is often accentuated when farms grow. Solutions are seen in different forms of collaboration between farms. However, these are often considered as very difficult to implement. A first step certainly is that farms stop to have both mechanisations for steep and flatter land by adopting collaborative mechanisation solutions.

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