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Suitability of different dairy cow types for an Alpine organic and low-input milk production system

Horn, Marco; Steinwidder, Andreas; Gasteiner, Johann; Podstatzky, Leopold; Haiger, Alfred and Zollitsch, Werner (2013) Suitability of different dairy cow types for an Alpine organic and low-input milk production system. Livestock Science, 153, pp. 135-146.

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The implementation of a seasonal, site adapted, pasture-based milk production system as applied in New Zealand and North Western Europe might be an alternative for the near future in Alpine regions. As in such a low-input system the fertility and secondary traits such as robustness against metabolic challenges of dairy cows is of crucial importance, it is questionable whether conventional dairy cow types, which were selected primarily for milk production under high-input conditions, are most suitable. Therefore the aim of this study was to compare two different genotypes concerning their suitability for an organic, low-input milk production system under Alpine conditions. Between 2008 and 2011 records from 91 lactations of Brown Swiss (BS) and a special strain of Holstein Friesian (HFL) were collected at an experimental organic dairy farm. The BS cows represented the average Austrian BS population and were primarily selected for high milk yield. HFL cows were for decades selected under low-input conditions and were primarily bred for lifetime performance and fitness. The dataset was analysed using multi-factorial statistical models. BS was superior for most milk production parameters, but not for milk yield per unit of metabolic body weight. HFL had a lower body weight throughout the lactation, but mobilised significantly less body reserves, indicating a shorter and less negative energy balance. Both breeds had similar total feed and energy intake, but HFL had a significantly higher feed intake per unit of metabolic body weight. Furthermore, HFL conceived earlier and had a significantly shorter calving interval and an overall superior reproductive performance. Due to this, HFL has some advantages over conventional BS if managed in a pasture based, low-input milk production system, especially when block calving is involved.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Dairy cow, Genotypes, Comparison, Seasonal, Alps
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Animal husbandry > Breeding and genetics
Research affiliation: European Union > SOLID
Austria > HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein
Austria > Univ. BOKU Wien > Sustainable Agr. Systems - NUWI
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:266367
Deposited By: Zollitsch, Dr. Werner
ID Code:25136
Deposited On:13 Feb 2014 12:48
Last Modified:13 Feb 2014 12:48
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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