Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART, CH-8046 Zurich

Home-farm forage area – a key parameter of summer-grazing demand

The development of alpine summer farming strongly depends on the development of the home farms. According to representative surveys of summer-pasturing (n = 856) and nonsummer- pasturing (n = 233) home farms in Switzerland, the available forage area on the home farms is a key parameter of the demand for summer pasturing, being both the most important reason for summer pasturing or not, as well as a potential and actual reason for exiting summer pasturing. In coming years, a scenario of increased opting-out is probable, since half of the farms articulate a wish to increase the homefarm forage area. Added to this, according to survey results, is the low likelihood of farmers entering or returning to the summer-pasturing option. For one thing, the survey indicates that very few farms that have previously never sent animals for summer grazing in alpine pastures will start to do so. Moreover, the return of large numbers of farms which previously summer-pastured their livestock is not to be expected, since opting out was in most cases a result of major – and therefore probably fairly long-term – changes on the home farm such as e.g. expansion of the forage area.

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