Shrubland increases in the Alps. One of the main objectives of the Pasto project was to assess the possibilities of limiting reforestation by means of suckler cows in the subalpine zone. Our work aims at clarifying the herd-vegetation relationship, both to ensure good grazing management and to understand the dynamics of reforestation. Most of the observations in this article were carried out on a pasture of 2.9 ha located on a northern slope at an altitude of about 1800 masl. GPS monitoring of cattle showed that the animals roamed all areas of the plot, even the most closed ones. Vegetation types known to be of low forage value (like tall herb community) were heavily visited by cows in early season. The analysis of forage consumed by livestock indicates that animals selection is important: the nutritive value remains relatively constant throughout the season. Botanical observations show that the most eaten herbaceous plants are not necessarily those known to be the most palatable. Among woody species, cattle browse willingly young green branches of alder. As long as these plants don’t exceed 1.5 m in height, a grazing intensity of 80 LU∙days/ha is sufficient to prevent their expansion.
Although milk-production oriented (MPO) cow breeds have also become established in the mountain region, farms with the dual-purpose ‘Original Simmental’ breed are proving to be economically viable, with lower costs and higher direct payments making up for lower revenues from milk.
High milk yields before drying-off increase the risk of udder infections during the dry period. An online survey highlights what drying-off methods are currently used and how farmers rate the ‘incomplete milking’ approach for reducing milk yield.
Herholz C., Siegwart J., Bruckmaier R.M., Rytz E., Lamon I., Muhr M. und Stirnimann R.
In both sport and alternative agriculture, horses are once again being used as draught animals. Efficient power transmission plays an important role in the wellbeing of draught horses.