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Open AccessArticle

Trends and Drivers of Change of Pastoral Beef Production Systems in a Mediterranean-Temperate Climate Zone of Chile

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Instituto de Ciencias Agronómicas y Veterinarias, Universidad de O’Higgins, San Fernando 3070000, Chile
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Departamento de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Casilla-306 Santiago, Chile
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Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Grønnegårdsvej3, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
4
Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1135; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121135
Received: 24 October 2019 / Revised: 19 November 2019 / Accepted: 4 December 2019 / Published: 12 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal System and Management)
Livestock production systems show modifications over time due to both internal and external variables. The relationships between internal variables allow the definition of typological groups of production systems. Knowing the typological groups and their temporal evolution allows the identification of continuity strategies at the private and public levels. With this aim and using data from livestock surveys conducted in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, four typological groups of beef production in a Mediterranean-temperate climate zone of Chile were identified. The typological groups differed in size, productive orientation, breeds used, and response to changes in external variables, among other aspects. These groups require different continuity strategies, which include, their sustainable intensification and the need to focus on pastoral production using low external inputs to enhance the production of “natural” beef for high-value niche markets.
The present study used surveys of the cattle sector over the period of 2009–2015 to develop a typology of cattle farms to evaluate their evolution over time and to identify variables that may be associated with systems’ adaptive changes and continuance. Four groups of farms were defined using multivariate analyses as follows: Group I are small calf-cow operations using non-specialized beef breeds; Group II is similar to Group I but employs specialized beef breeds; Group III is dedicated to finishing cattle, and Group IV are larger farms (>1000 animals) with a complete cycle of breeding and fattening. In general, beef cattle production in the temperate—Mediterranean Southern Zone of Chile is declining in response to the opening up of the economy that allows for ample imports, the high opportunity cost of land, and recurrent droughts associated with climate change. Current policies and regulations have modified farms’ businesses models depending on their ease of access to markets, farm size and financial capacity. The defined groups require different development paths and strategies. Sustainable intensification is an alternative strategy for farms in Group I and II, particularly if they were to contract the finishing stage of their cattle with Group III farms. In contrast, it is suggested that Group IV farms concentrate on pastoral production using low external inputs to enhance the production of “natural” beef for high-value niche markets, with positive externalities. View Full-Text
Keywords: beef cattle; comparative evolution; farms continuity; resource use; typology beef cattle; comparative evolution; farms continuity; resource use; typology
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Toro-Mujica, P.; Vera, R.; Vargas-Bello-Pérez, E.; Pinedo, P.; Bas, F. Trends and Drivers of Change of Pastoral Beef Production Systems in a Mediterranean-Temperate Climate Zone of Chile. Animals 2019, 9, 1135.

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