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Animals 2015, 5(3), 479-494; doi:10.3390/ani5030367

Farm Management in Organic and Conventional Dairy Production Systems Based on Pasture in Southern Brazil and Its Consequences on Production and Milk Quality

1
Department of Zootechny and Rural Development, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis 88034-001, Brazil
2
Graduate Program in Agroecosystems, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis 88034-001, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Alan Fredeen
Received: 9 December 2014 / Revised: 29 June 2015 / Accepted: 29 June 2015 / Published: 9 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Animal Production)
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Simple Summary

This study provides the characteristics of the conventional high input (C-HI), conventional low input (C-LI), and organic low input (O-LI) pasture-based production systems used in Southern Brazil, and its consequences on production and milk quality. C-HI farms had larger farms and herds, annual pasture with higher inputs and milk yield, whereas O-LI had smaller farms and herds, perennial pastures with lowest input and milk yields; C-LI was in between. O-LI farms may contribute to eco-system services, but low milk yield is a major concern. Hygienic and microbiological milk quality was poor for all farms and needs to be improved.

Abstract

Pasture-based dairy production is used widely on family dairy farms in Southern Brazil. This study investigates conventional high input (C-HI), conventional low input (C-LI), and organic low input (O-LI) pasture-based systems and their effects on quantity and quality of the milk produced. We conducted technical site visits and interviews monthly over one year on 24 family farms (n = 8 per type). C-HI farms had the greatest total area (28.9 ha), greatest percentage of area with annual pasture (38.7%), largest number of lactating animals (26.2) and greatest milk yield per cow (22.8 kg·day−1). O-LI farms had the largest perennial pasture area (52.3%), with the greatest botanical richness during all seasons. Area of perennial pasture was positively correlated with number of species consumed by the animals (R2 = 0.74). Milk from O-LI farms had higher levels of fat and total solids only during the winter. Hygienic and microbiological quality of the milk was poor for all farms and need to be improved. C-HI farms had high milk yield related to high input, C-LI had intermediate characteristics and O-LI utilized a year round perennial pasture as a strategy to diminish the use of supplements in animal diets, which is an important aspect in ensuring production sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic milk; pasture-based dairy production; sustainable agriculture; food security organic milk; pasture-based dairy production; sustainable agriculture; food security
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kuhnen, S.; Stibuski, R.B.; Honorato, L.A.; Filho, L.C.P.M. Farm Management in Organic and Conventional Dairy Production Systems Based on Pasture in Southern Brazil and Its Consequences on Production and Milk Quality. Animals 2015, 5, 479-494.

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