Livestock husbandry produces undesirable emissions in the form of ammonia and greenhouse gases. In order to achieve the environmental objectives for agriculture, effective yet practical measures are needed. In the experimental dairy-cow housing for emissions research, structural, process-engineering and organisational reduction measures as well as feeding strategies are examined comparatively and evaluated.
The project was launched in 2014, in order to update the recommendations for the feeding of fattening bull-calves. The challenge of this updating is to bear in mind changes that have occurred in genetics, forage quality, and the politico-economic context for fattening bulls since the current standards were set. Today, it is also important to expand the project to include topics such as feed autonomy and efficiency, as well as the sustainability of the various production systems in different regions of Switzerland.
How much milk does a cow produce, and how much feed does she require to produce it? This research project simultaneously provides answers to both questions. Our researchers develop methods for estimating how much feed a dairy cow consumes; from this, we can deduce how efficiently she utilises her feed. The two breeds, Holstein and Swiss Fleckvieh, are fed almost exclusively with grass or hay – so-called ‘roughage’ – then compared in terms of feed consumption and milk yield. The newly obtained findings are also intended to be of benefit in breeding.
High expectations are placed on the modern dairy cow: she is meant to produce lots of milk of impeccable quality, utilise feed efficiently, have a low impact on the environment, and cope well with the consequences of climate change. To make her fit for these challenges, the impacts must be recognised at an early stage, and appropriate management and feeding measures developed.