In the summer of 2016, three pack mules, each carrying a load weighing 80kg, accompanied a 94.46km trek across the Gotthard Pass with a total altitude difference of 3,364m. The mules’ performances were evaluated by measuring vital recovery parameters such as heart- and respiratory rates and body temperature, and by continuous heartrate monitoring during the trek. The stress levels of the animals were estimated by determining glucocorticoid metabolite levels in their faeces. Throughout the trekking days, recovery heartrates lay within a range which indicated that the animals were not being overworked. The continuous heartrate monitoring of one of the mules showed that its physical performance lay within the endurance zone. As expected, glucocorticoid metabolite levels were elevated in the faeces of all the mules – a normal physiological response after five consecutive days of exercise. The study shows the mules as being capable of performing at an endurance level during the Gotthard trek with no adverse affects on their health – a performance which was historically expected of the animals.
Although milk-production oriented (MPO) cow breeds have also become established in the mountain region, farms with the dual-purpose ‘Original Simmental’ breed are proving to be economically viable, with lower costs and higher direct payments making up for lower revenues from milk.
High milk yields before drying-off increase the risk of udder infections during the dry period. An online survey highlights what drying-off methods are currently used and how farmers rate the ‘incomplete milking’ approach for reducing milk yield.
Herholz C., Siegwart J., Bruckmaier R.M., Rytz E., Lamon I., Muhr M. und Stirnimann R.
In both sport and alternative agriculture, horses are once again being used as draught animals. Efficient power transmission plays an important role in the wellbeing of draught horses.