The objective of the study was to compare, within pasture-based seasonal-calving systems, the performance of Swiss Holstein-Friesian, Fleckvieh and Brown Swiss dairy cows with New Zealand Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Within the trial, the two Holstein breeds had the best production performance, whereas the Fleckvieh cows had optimal reproductive performance. Swiss Holstein cows were efficient milk producers, even in low-input systems, but should have better reproductive performance to be suitable for compact calvings, even though our economic simulations suggest that milk production is a more influential profit factor than reproduction or meat production, giving a financial advantage to the two more dairy-oriented Holstein breeds. However, our economic references need to be refined for these specific systems. The choice of dairy systems and of appropriately efficient cows for these systems remains a large and constantly evolving research area. The efficiency of an animal depends on the system in which it is and the definition of «efficient use of resources» is evolving with our knowledge of biology, human nutrition, climatology and ecology.
Livestock can convert grassland and by-products into valuable food. But how many animals would Switzerland need if arable land were primarily used for food production instead of animal feed?
Which stakeholders in the dairy sector have an influence on the productive life of dairy cows? Research results from FiBL and Agroscope suggest that broad-based cooperation is needed to create structures for a longer productive life.
Agriculture is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. Agroscope showed that for dairy cattle housing, feed composition plays a role in these emissions as well as wind and temperature.