Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, 8903 Birmensdorf

Livestock husbandry on alpine summer farms – a literature review

This literature review focuses on three aspects of livestock husbandry on alpine summer farms: the impact of alpine summer farming on the animals; the suitability of the animals for alpine summer farming and alternatives to dairy cows on alpine summer pastures. The conditions on alpine summer pastures result in an energy deficit in dairy cows that leads first to a lower milk yield. For heifers and fattening stock, the period of alpine summer grazing is often followed by a period of compensatory growth. In addition, breeding cattle on alpine pastures had a higher milk yield during the first lactation after summer grazing. An alternative to alpine summer farming with dairy cows is to graze the alpine summer pastures with suckler cows. The challenge here is to choose the breed that best fits the conditions of each site. Mixed pasture systems may potentially lead to better use of alpine summer pastures, but this needs to be further investigated and the breeds best adapted to local conditions identified.

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