06 Milchkuh_web

Heat Stress in Grazing Dairy Cows

In Switzerland as elsewhere, global climate change is leading to more frequent heat waves. Dairy cattle are very susceptible to heat stress, which leads to reduced performance as well as negatively affecting animal health and well-being. Measures commonly used to deal with heat stress in housed cows are not practicable in the case of cows on pasture. A research project launched in 2018 therefore has two aims: to recognise incipient heat stress via behavioural traits, and to develop practical measures for reducing heat stress in grazing dairy cows.

07 Pferde_web

Uncovering Genetic Diversity

A novel three-step method provides important information for the conservation of endangered livestock breeds, enabling the genetic origins, kinship relations and degree of inbreeding of an individual in a population to be determined. Based on this, a breeding programme will allow rapid implementation of diversity measures for preserving the original genetics, e.g through the exclusion of animals with a high admixture level. An initial study of 531 horses examined the population structure of eight horse breeds.


04 Ferkel_web

Fattening Pigs Without Soya

Soya imports are controversial owing to the long transport routes from South America and the clearing of old-growth forest for farmland which they entail. If we could exploit the known potential of Swiss pig breeds to cope with a reduced-protein diet, Switzerland could make crude-protein savings equivalent to the quantity of soy currently imported for pig production. What’s more, these animals excrete less nitrogen, thereby reducing environmental pollution. To achieve these benefits, we need to determine how we can breed healthy, productive pigs with this trait.