Economic approach of the LACTOBEEF project

Summering fattening cattle on alpine pastures has the advantage of utilising the whey and optimising the number of animals on said pastures. The LACTOBEEF project followed two mountain stockbreeders from the Gruyère Pays d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park. Traditionally, these stockbreeders fatten pigs on their whey and raise dairy heifers. The trial addresses the economic consequences when 24 and 34 fattening cattle replace the equivalent in heifers, to utilise 47 000 and 46 000 litres of whey, respectively. In practice, raising these cattle is compatible with raising the dairy cows, and the breeders would be prepared to carry on. The «partial budget» approach reveals an economic shortage of the order of CHF 4000 for the season, essentially linked to labour (75% of costs), i.e. a cost of between 8 and 9 centimes per litre of whey. The work – estimated at 40 minutes per day, with optimised layouts and practices – is compatible with the mountain stockbreeder’s work. Investments are limited (around CHF 1500 for facilities) and reversible. Implementation of this activity can only be contemplated if a sector for the supply of whey-consuming finishing-phase cattle is created, and their take-up and marketing is ensured.

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