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Open AccessArticle

Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Dairy Farms Rearing the Italian Simmental Dual-Purpose Breed

1
Department of Agricultural, Food, Environmental and Animal Sciences, University of Udine, 33100 Udine, Italy
2
La Rossa Pezzata of Friuli Venezia Giulia cooperative society, 33080 Fiume Veneto, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 296; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020296 (registering DOI)
Received: 14 January 2020 / Accepted: 11 February 2020 / Published: 13 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
The milk and meat production systems are responsible for more than 5% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world; therefore, there is a strong need to propose strategies for reducing the carbon footprint. The aim of this paper was to assess the environmental footprint of dairy farms rearing a dual-purpose breed and to evaluate the fattening of calves directly in farms and the cultivation of alternative crops, such as hemp, as possible strategies for reducing the environmental footprint of dairy farms. In order to produce 1 kg of milk with 4.0% of fat and 3.3% of protein, the emissions were 1.1–1.4 kg CO2eq, 14.8–19.0 g SO2eq and 5.0–6.4 g PO43−eq. These emissions could be reduced by 8–11% by fattening the calves directly in the farms, and by 1–5% by cultivating hemp and using its by-product, hempseed cake, in the diets of animals. Moreover, the results of this study showed that the environmental footprint can be reduced, improving the productive efficiency of the farms.
This study aimed to assess the environmental footprint of dairy farms rearing a dual-purpose breed, and to evaluate, through alternative scenario analyses, the fattening of calves and the cultivation of hemp as strategies for reducing the environmental impact of these farms. Eleven farms were evaluated for global warming (GWP), acidification (AC) and eutrophication (EUP) potential. The Life Cycle Assessment method with three scenarios, REAL, based on real data, BEEF, where calves were fattened in farm, and HEMP, where hemp was cultivated in farms, were considered. If referred to 1 m2 of utilizable agricultural land, the GWP, AC and EUP were 1.6 kgCO2eq, 21.7 gSO2eq and 7.1 gPO43−eq, respectively. If referring to 1 kg of fat and protein corrected milk, the emissions were 1.1–1.4 kgCO2eq, 14.8–19.0 gSO2eq, and 5.0–6.4 gPO43−eq, depending on the allocation method adopted. The emissions were associated positively with culling rate and negatively with production intensity. In BEEF and HEMP scenarios, the emissions were reduced by 8–11% and by 1–5%, respectively. Fattening the calves, evaluating the cultivation of alternative plants and improving the productive and reproductive efficiency of animals could be effective strategies for reducing the environmental footprint of the farm.
Keywords: cattle; LCA; climate change; acidification; eutrophication cattle; LCA; climate change; acidification; eutrophication
MDPI and ACS Style

Baldini, M.; Da Borso, F.; Rossi, A.; Taverna, M.; Bovolenta, S.; Piasentier, E.; Corazzin, M. Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Dairy Farms Rearing the Italian Simmental Dual-Purpose Breed. Animals 2020, 10, 296.

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