Swiss dairy farms must increasingly cope with climate protection, environmental conservation and the use of limited resources. In the context of the Hohenrain comparison of dairy production systems, a comprehensive assessment of the environmental impacts was conducted using the Swiss Agricultural Life Cycle Assessment method. The environmental strengths and weaknesses of seasonal full-pasture and indoor feeding systems were compared. The indoor herd performed significantly better than the pasture herd in three of thirteen impact categories. In contrast, the pasture herd performed better in seven of thirteen impact categories. A considerable weakness in the pasture herd was its higher methane emissions per kilogram of energy-corrected milk and the oneand- a-half times greater land requirement per kilogram of energy-corrected milk. The indoor herd had its main weaknesses in deforestation, the phosphorous and potassium resource requirements and higher ecotoxicity. The main causes for poor performance in these categories were maize and soybean meal.
Life cycle assessment of intensive and pasture-based dairy production systems