Animals in organic mixed livestock systems – farmer’s perception and impact on animal behaviour, health and welfare
SUPERVISOR: Christoph WINCKLER
PROJECT ASSIGNED TO: Lisa SCHANZ
It is often argued that specialisation and the sustained use of land in agricultural systems has led to varying difficulties regarding the environmental impact, for example the high demands on soil (Green et al., 2005; Matson et al., 1998). In recent years a more diversified farming strategy has been mentioned as a possibility to preserve and efficiently use natural resources (Kremen et al., 2012; Kremen and Miles, 2012), as well as increase the resilience in the face of adverse events (e.g. market price drop for one product or severe weather events) (Lemaire et al., 2014; Nozières et al., 2011). There is some evidence that a farm may benefit from being home to more than one livestock species in various ways: For one the different types of excreta may be used to provide the soil with a richer fertiliser, while the different demands on grazing (e.g. grass species) may lead to an improved use of the pastures, if two animal species get access to a pasture, either alternatingly or jointly (Anderson et al., 2012; Esmail, 1991; Fraser et al., 2014). Apart from possible health benefits or risks (parasitic pressure), other animal welfare aspects have not yet received a great deal of research attention in mixed livestock systems. Therefore, one aim of this research project is to investigate the inter-species behaviour of two jointly grazed livestock species, by describing interactions in detail and comparing a wider range of behaviours in jointly and separately grazed cattle and broilers.
The farmers attitude and perception of animal welfare and several other aspects of farming influence how farmers handle decision-making, change and adaptation, considerably (Bay-Larsen et al., 2018; e.g. Edwards-Jones, 2006; Huber et al., 2015; Nettier et al., 2012). Thus, another aim of this project is to provide an insight into the reasons for mixed livestock farming and the possible impacts on the farm, the animals and their welfare by conducting an in-depth interview with farmers (e.g. Bay-Larsen et al., 2018), or a combination of quantitative and qualitative interview methods (e.g. Boogaard et al., 2006; Kiliç and Bozkurt, 2013).
This PhD project is part of the ERAnet CORE Organic project MIX-ENABLE (MIXEd livestock farming for improved sustaiNABiLity and robustnEss of organic livestock). For further information please visit this website (http://projects.au.dk/coreorganiccofund/research-projects/mix-enable/).
Figure 1 and 2: Joint grazing of cattle and broilers on pasture.
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