In dairy farming, the use of antibiotics and the feeding with concentrates are challenged by public opinion and by economic considerations. Antibiotics are used to preserve the health of cattle and the quality of milk, however their use is expensive and can result in antibiotic resistances in human and animal pathogens. It is now urgent to improve the feeding basis of ruminants in order to reduce the supplementation diminishing by this the elevated quantities of imported feeding stuff. Between 2013 and 2016, the FRI and the FiBL have conducted a project aimed to diminish the use of antibiotics and to increase the self-supply in dairy production, while preserving the udder health and reducing the production costs. However, the reduction of antibiotics and concentrates shall not deteriorate the milk quality nor the health and the productivity of the cows. The study has been conducted on a network of 20 dairy farms in the canton Jura and in the Bernese Jura that could also benefit from medical survey of the flock and from specific advanced training offers. Overall, the number of antibiotic treatments have been reduced by 33% in the first 2 years of the study. The indicators of milk quality and udder health were slightly reduced during the same period, while the costs linked to health and quality were reduced by 29 %. The self-supply was improved by an increase in the efficacy of the concentrate (expressed in g of concentrate per kg of milk) by 22 %. These results are very encouraging for cattle breeders interested in this type of strategy.
Livestock can convert grassland and by-products into valuable food. But how many animals would Switzerland need if arable land were primarily used for food production instead of animal feed?
Which stakeholders in the dairy sector have an influence on the productive life of dairy cows? Research results from FiBL and Agroscope suggest that broad-based cooperation is needed to create structures for a longer productive life.
Agriculture is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. Agroscope showed that for dairy cattle housing, feed composition plays a role in these emissions as well as wind and temperature.