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Multi-species livestock farming systems: a review

Martin, Guillaume; Barth, Kerstin; Benoit, Marc; Blanc, Mathilde; Brock, Christopher; Destruel, Marie; Dumont, Bertrand; Hübner, Severin; Magne, Marie-Angélina; Moerman, Marie; Mosnier, Claire; Primi, Riccardo; Ronchi, Bruno; Schanz, Lisa; Steinmetz, Lucille; Werne, Steffen and Winckler, Christoph (2019) Multi-species livestock farming systems: a review. Agricultural Systems, 00, 00-00. [Submitted]

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[thumbnail of Review MSLF_VF-EdJ.docx] Microsoft Word - Submitted Version - English
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Diversification of farming systems has been proposed as a major mechanism to address the many sustainability issues of modern industrial agriculture. Keeping two or more animal species or breeds (e.g. dairy cattle and beef cattle) simultaneously on the same farm is a diversification option that has received little attention to date. Moreover, most studies of multi-species livestock farming are partial, focus on specific dimensions of farm sustainability and address lower organizational levels, (i.e. within the farm). Thus, holistic assessment of potential benefits of multi-species livestock farming for farm sustainability is lacking. In this context, we synthesized potential benefits and limitations of multi-species livestock farming for farm sustainability from existing literature and listed research challenges related to it. We showed that multi-species livestock farming has the potential to improve the five dimensions of farm sustainability reviewed - resource-use efficiency and conservation, animal health and welfare, productivity, profitability and human welfare - as long as locally relevant farming practices are used, especially an appropriate stocking rate during grazing. If not, multi-species livestock farming may produce counter effects, such as competition during grazing, parasitic cross-infection and more intense work peaks. To further the spread of multi-species livestock farming, we identify four research challenges. One, characterize better the management of mixed-species livestock farms. To do this, we developed an analytical framework considering the integration of production enterprises within the farm from three perspectives: farming practices (i.e. co-management vs. segregated management), work organization (i.e. versatile vs. specialized workers across enterprises) and sales management (i.e. similar vs. segregated sales channels among enterprises). Two, explore further the complementarity of livestock species on multi-species livestock farms. This is especially true for species combinations that have been largely ignored (e.g. ruminants and monogastrics), even though they may have potential due to complementary diet compositions and resource-acquisition strategies. Three, assess better the sustainability of multi-species livestock farm scenarios (current or alternative) according to the management practices used and production conditions, which requires adapting existing methods/models or developing new ones. Four, characterize conditions for success of and obstacles to multi-species livestock farming along the value chain from production to consumption, considering stakeholders’ objectives, work habits and constraints. Increasing understanding should help prioritize actions and organize them into pathways toward diversification of livestock farms.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Subjects: Farming Systems
Animal husbandry
Research affiliation: France > ENSAT
European Union > CORE Organic Cofund > Mix-Enable
Austria > Univ. BOKU Wien
Belgium > Centre Wallon de Recherche Agronomique (CRA-W) (Gembloux)
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland
France > INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
Deposited By: Martin, Dr Guillaume
ID Code:36605
Deposited On:30 Oct 2019 10:34
Last Modified:05 Nov 2019 14:06
Document Language:English
Refereed:Submitted for peer-review but not yet accepted

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