Adapted breeds for productivity in organic and low input dairy systems

Low input and organic dairy systems (OLIDS) require cows which are adapted to the specific conditions within individual systems, while the regional diversity of these systems call for different breeding approaches. Actors within Europe have identified a number of possible alternative strategies, such as crossbreeding and selection for robustness and lifetime performance to overcome the limitations of conventional genotypes used in OLIDS. The work undertaken within the SOLID project was conducted to characterise the degree of adaptation to OLIDS of different dairy cattle genotypes. There were indications of improved health traits with the alternative genotypes in two regions, while across all regions fertility was unaffected by genotype or an OLIDS-specific reduction in concentrate supply. In the absence of consistent interactions between genotype and dietary treatment, both the conventional and alternative genotypes appeared to have responded in a similar manner to the feed challenge, but with some differences at the metabolic level. It can be concluded that alternative genotypes will show some differences to conventional genotypes if managed in OLIDS. Depending on the actual conditions within the production system, these differences may not be large enough to result in an overall advantage over conventional genotypes in terms of productive and reproductive performance.


Theme: animal husbandry
Published: 26th January 2016
Author: Werner Zollitsch