Research


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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-04-01 - 2021-03-31

Integrating two or more animal species with crop production or agroforestry on a farm potentially provides many benefits including more efficient pasture use and parasite management. However, organic mixed livestock farms (OMLF) tend to specialize or display limited integration between farm components. This limited integration may reduce the practical benefits of OMLF. Therefore, we aim to (i) characterize OMLF in Europe, especially their level of integration between farm components, (ii) assess their sustainability and robustness to adverse events, (iii) compare their performances with those of specialized farms, (iv) integrate the knowledge developed on OMLF into models that can simulate their performances against climatic and economic variability, (v) conduct farm-level experiments to generate knowledge about OMLF (to feed into the models) and (vi) co-design with farmers more sustainable and robust OMLF. We will survey OMLF to collect technical and socio-economic data. Then we will enlarge existing concepts and methods to assess the level of integration between farm components and apply these methods to surveyed OMLF. We will also develop an indicator system for integrated assessment of OMLF and apply it to connect the sustainability and robustness of surveyed OMLF with their level of integration among farm components. In parallel we will conduct farm-level experimentation of organic specialized and mixed livestock situations for the comparison of specific aspects of animal husbandry (e.g. pasture use, animal health). We will extend farm simulation models to OMLF and analyze the benefits and drawbacks of livestock diversity. Using these models, we will develop and implement participatory methods to co-design with farmers sustainable and robust OMLF. To inform practice and policy-making, we will communicate our results to shed light on the potentialities of OMLF and the way to manage it sustainably or the way to reach it starting from a specialized farm.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-05-01 - 2021-04-30

POWER addresses a range of trans-national challenges to organic pig farming. They are reflected in high piglet mortality, gut infections in young pigs and nutrient losses from outdoor areas. The project targets young pigs (piglets, weaners and growing-finishing pigs) and the overall aim is to improve resilience at animal and production system level. This will support the development of a diversity of ecologic and economic competitive organic pig systems across Europe. POWER provides new scientific and practical knowledge in 3 focus areas: 1) Design and management of housing systems offering growing-finishing pigs a stimulus-rich (natural) environment, whilst reducing the risk of emissions from outdoor areas, 2) Farrowing nest design and genetics to improve survival of piglets and 3) Management strategies to improve animal welfare and performance after weaning with emphasis on gut health. The focus on the vulnerable transition period at weaning will reduce stress and improve health and welfare, thus reducing the need for contentious inputs like antibiotics. The project involves partners in 8 countries with access to an extensive network in the organic sector supporting stakeholder driven activities throughout Europe. It will identify and demonstrate best practices in various combinations of housing and pasture systems related to animal welfare, feed efficiency and environmental impact. Finally, an overall assessment of cost effectiveness and environmental impact of the investigated innovations will assure practical guidelines on cost- and eco-efficient pig practice, which will be communicated in farmer targeted tutorial videos and manuals in several European languages. Through research on animal welfare, the farming environment and farm economics, and through best practices identified via the stakeholder network, POWER will contribute to resolving some of the most significant obstacles in current European organic pig farming with benefits for the whole pig sector.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-04-01 - 2021-03-31

There is a great potential to ameliorate young stock rearing systems concerning animal welfare-friendly husbandry, feeding and disease prevention. This project aims to identify approaches on different levels: Surveys on dairy calf rearing systems with cow-calf contact practised in several European countries will provide information on distribution, diversity and success of such systems, and on barriers or support due to national standards. Economic modelling will show their impacts on gross-margins. On-farm trials with 2-3 selected systems will evaluate their impact on animal welfare including health, production, economic and work load parameters compared to common systems. Veal fattening with foster cows will be compared to common automatic feeders on 3 commercial farms. On 5 organic farms effects of feeding increased milk levels on welfare, behaviour, and performance of replacement calves will be analysed in comparison to common feeding. It will be investigated whether the content of immunoglobulins in colostrum and milk can be stimulated via cow-calf contact or via feed supplements. To study long-term effects of young stock rearing methods on health and performance later in life, different feeding (silage vs. non-silage) and grazing strategies (extensive vs. intensive) will be studied. The impact of plant bioactive compounds on protein use efficiency, animals’ immune response, and product quality will be assessed. A result of this project will be recommendations on the implementation of animal friendly and efficient dairy calf rearing and fattening systems in which use of antibiotics and anthelmintics is minimised.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations