Mixed multi-species (sheep/goat/cattle) grazing system

12/08/2019

Summary

Technology deals with basic biological characteristics, i.e. interactions and dynamic, in the multi-species domestic animals breeding system, e.g. in the mixed sheep/goat/cattle herd, which might turn out to be a fruitful foundation in “building” a complex, sustainable and diverse agricultural production system.

Technology Description

Due to global changes (climate, human population growth), there is a strong initiative towards sustainable agricultural practices, which ‘inter alia’ means also transition from monoculture to multi-species production/breeding systems – the premise of such systems is the higher functional diversity and multi-functionality of agro-ecosystems (both biological and in terms of products/goods). In livestock production such concepts can be implemented mainly through the mixed multi-species grazing systems, i.e. simultaneous grazing of different species (in our case goats, sheep and cattle) sharing the same pastureland.

Knowledge on biological characteristics of such a sympatry is still insufficient, therefore, understanding of its dynamic (i.e. mixing, intra- and inter-specific interactions, social structure, space use, reproduction etc.) is of essential importance for effective implementation and optimization of mixed multi-species grazing systems.

Because different foraging strategies, mixed sheep/goat/cattle herd, presents a potentially suitable multi-species breeding system. However, its biological characteristics, interactions and dynamic – hence, an optimal technological approach – is almost completely unknown and should therefore be systematically established and observed/analysed to find an optimal technology.

The mixed herd should be established at the area of at least 10 ha – the optimal area should contain various stages of vegetation succession, e.g. including shrubland/forest edge which passes to the meadow.

Animals/herd:

The herd should contain predominantly female animals, whereby males will not necessarily be a permanent part of the basic herd, but could be introduced into the herd only in the breeding season.

After a certain period of habituation, spontaneous mixing of animals will be enabled. Lamb/kids will stay in the basic herd until weaning. All animals should be tagged with the plastic ear tags and (optional) equipped with a digital GPS tracker attached to the collar.

The aim of the project is to study the basic biological characteristics, i.e. interactions and dynamic, in the multi-species domestic animals breeding system, e.g. in the mixed sheep/goat/cattle herd, which might turn out to be a fruitful foundation in “building” a complex, sustainable and diverse agricultural production system.

Main advantages

- higher functional diversity and multi-functionality of agro-ecosystems

- sustainable and diverse agricultural production system

Stage of development

The technology is in the TRL 5- technology validated in relevant environment.

Relevance and potential impact:

The mixed multi-species grazing technology covers the key aspects/concepts of contemporary and future agriculture, as well as addresses some of its burning problems, both at the national and global level:

i) Sustainable agriculture: transition from monoculture to mixed multi-species agricultural practices.

ii) Overgrown farm land: it is a burning problem – implementation of mixed sheep/goat/cattle grazing systems could considerably mitigate this problem.

iii) Conservation of autochthonous breeds of domestic animals: encouraging integration of autochthonous breeds, which are well adapted to the local conditions, into the mixed grazing systems.

Challenge and needs

Knowledge on biological characteristics of such a sympatry is still insufficient, therefore, understanding of its dynamic (i.e. mixing, intra- and inter-specific interactions, social structure, space use, reproduction etc.) is of essential importance for effective implementation and optimization of mixed multi-species grazing systems.

Intellectual property

Technology is not yet protected by a patent.

Potential markets and targets

The global market size of smart agriculture is expected to grow from approximately 9.58 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 to 23.14 billion U.S. dollars by 2022 this represents an opportunity also for presented technology. 

Potential partners

Potential partners could be farms, non-government organisations, public agencies, companies.

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