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.
Pontiggia A., Münger A., Ammer S., Philipona C., Bruckmaier R. M., Keil N.M., Dohme-Meier F.
Even in temperate climate zones, an increase in the ambient temperature and solar radiation can cause heat stress in grazing dairy cows. Agroscope studied the physiological changes in cows caused by increasing heat load.
Lazzari G., Münger A., Heimo D., Seifert S., Camarinha-Silva A., Borda-Molina D., Zähner M., Schrade S., Kreuzer M., Dohme-Meier F.
In dairy cows, herbage-based diets often lead to increased nitrogen excretion. Tanniferous sainfoin and extract of acacia can reduce nitrogen excretion from urine and thus ammonia volatilization from slurry.
Excessive nitrogen inputs from the air lead to over-fertilisation of sensitive ecosystems. Continuous feeding optimisation can make an important contribution to reducing ammonia losses and thus nitrogen inputs.