Special Issue "Sustainable Livestock Production"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Ada Braghieri
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento Sci Prod Anim, University of Basilicata, I-85100 Potenza, Italy
Interests: sustainability of livestock production systems; organic farming; consumer studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

To satisfy the three pillars of sustainable production (planet, people, profit), the livestock sector faces many challenges, including the reduction of GHG emissions and land use and animal competition with regard to human nutrition, food safety, improving and safeguarding the biodiversity and welfare of farmed species, improvement of the social and economic conditions of the farmers, and the preservation of ecosystems and cultural landscapes.

Thus, this Special Issue welcomes papers covering the many diverse areas implicated in improving the sustainability of livestock production. Particular relevance will be given to mitigation strategies of enteric and manure emissions involving precision feeding, feed digestibility, pasture quality, breeding for reduced emissions, rumen microbiome selection, and anaerobic digestion of manure. Related topics, such as waste recycling, organic farming, animal robustness, social sustainability and ecosystem services, consumers’ willingness to pay for labeled eco- and welfare-friendly animal products, will be also covered. Papers selected for this Special Issue will be subjected to a rigorous peer review procedure, with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Prof. Dr. Ada Braghieri
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sustainable livestock production
  • biodiversity
  • mitigation strategies
  • precision feeding
  • consumers’ willingness to pay
  • ecosystem services
  • animal welfare
  • enteric emissions
  • life cycle assessment
  • manure
  • land use
  • water consumption
  • food safety
  • profitability

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Effect of Feed Concentrate Intake on the Environmental Impact of Dairy Cows in an Alpine Mountain Region Including Soil Carbon Sequestration and Effect on Biodiversity
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 2128; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052128 - 09 Mar 2020
Abstract
Several studies on the environmental impacts of livestock enterprises are based on the application of life cycle assessments (LCA). In Alpine regions, soil carbon sequestration can play an important role in reducing environmental impacts. However, there is no official methodology to calculate this [...] Read more.
Several studies on the environmental impacts of livestock enterprises are based on the application of life cycle assessments (LCA). In Alpine regions, soil carbon sequestration can play an important role in reducing environmental impacts. However, there is no official methodology to calculate this possible reduction. Biodiversity plays an important role in the Alpine environment and is affected by human activities, such as cattle farming. Our aim was to estimate the carbon footprint (CF) of four different dairy production systems (different in breeds and feeding intensity) by using the LCA approach. The present study included 44 dairy Alpine farms located in the autonomous province of Bolzano in northern Italy. Half of the farms (n = 22) kept Alpine Grey and the other half (n = 22) Brown Swiss cattle. Within breeds, the farms were divided by the amount of concentrated feed per cow and day into high concentrate (HC) and low concentrate (LC). This resulted in 11 Alpine Grey low concentrate (AGLC) farms feeding an average amount of 3.0 kg concentrated feed/cow/day and 11 Alpine Grey high concentrate (AGHC) farms with an average amount of 6.3 kg concentrated feed/cow/day. Eleven farms kept Brown Swiss cows with an average amount of 3.7 kg concentrated feed/cow/day (BSLC) and another 11 farms feeding on average 7.6 kg concentrated feed/cow/day (BSHC). CF for the four systems was estimated using the LCA approach. The functional unit was 1 kg of fat and protein corrected milk (FPCM). Furthermore, two methodologies have been applied to estimate soil carbon sequestration and effect on biodiversity. The system with the lowest environmental impact in terms of CF was BSHC (1.14 kg CO2-eq/kg of FPCM), while the most impactful system was the AGLC group (1.55 kg CO2-eq/kg of FPCM). Including the CF reduction due to soil carbon sequestered from grassland, it decreased differently for the two applied methods. For all four systems, the main factor for CF was enteric emission, while the main pollutant was biogenic CH4. Conversely, AGLC had the lowest impact when the damage to biodiversity was considered (damage score = 0.41/kg of FPCM, damage to ecosystem diversity = 1.78 E-07 species*yr/kg FPCM). In comparison, BSHC had the greatest impact in terms of damage to biodiversity (damage score = 0.56/kg of FPCM, damage to ecosystem diversity = 2.49 E-07 species*yr/kg FPCM). This study indicates the importance of including soil carbon sequestration from grasslands and effects on biodiversity when calculating the environmental performance of dairy farms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Silage Fermentation and In Vitro Degradation Characteristics of Orchardgrass and Alfalfa Intercrop Mixtures as Influenced by Forage Ratios and Nitrogen Fertilizing Levels
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030871 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
Intercropping is a globally accepted method of forage production and its effect on silage quality depends not only on forage combination but also fertilization strategy. In the present study, field intercropping of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) [...] Read more.
Intercropping is a globally accepted method of forage production and its effect on silage quality depends not only on forage combination but also fertilization strategy. In the present study, field intercropping of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) at five seed ratios (100:0, 75:25: 50:50, 25:75, 0:100 in %, based on seed weight) was applied under three N fertilizing levels (0, 50, and 100 kg/ha), and harvested for silage making and in vitro rumen degradation. As a result of intercropping, the actual proportions (based on dry matter) of alfalfa in mixtures were much closer to seed proportion of alfalfa in field, except 75:25 orchardgrass-alfalfa intercrops with no fertilization. The actual proportions of alfalfa in mixtures decreased by 3–13% with the increase of N level. Increases of alfalfa proportion in mixtures increased silage quality, nutrients degradability and CH4 emissions. Increasing N levels increased silage pH, concentration of butyric acid, and fiber fractions. In summary, inclusion of alfalfa at around 50% in orchardgrass-alfalfa silage mixtures were selected for favorable ensiling and higher forage use efficiency while also limiting CH4 emissions, compared to monocultures. The silage quality and feeding values of mixtures were influenced more by forage ratios than by N levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling Method for Cost and Carbon Emission of Sheep Transportation Based on Path Optimization
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 835; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030835 - 22 Jan 2020
Abstract
Energy conservation, cost, and emission reduction are the research topics of most concern today. The aim of this paper is to reduce the cost and carbon emissions and improve the sustainable development of sheep transportation. Under the typical case of the “farmers–middlemen–slaughterhouses” (FMS) [...] Read more.
Energy conservation, cost, and emission reduction are the research topics of most concern today. The aim of this paper is to reduce the cost and carbon emissions and improve the sustainable development of sheep transportation. Under the typical case of the “farmers–middlemen–slaughterhouses” (FMS) supply model, this paper comprehensively analyzed the factors, sources, and types of cost and carbon emissions in the process of sheep transportation, and a quantitative evaluation model was established. The genetic algorithm (GA) was proposed to search for the optimal path of sheep transportation, and then the model solving algorithm was designed based on the basic GA. The results of path optimization indicated that the optimal solution can be obtained effectively when the range of basic parameters of GA was set reasonably. The optimal solution is the optimal path and the shortest distance under the supply mode of FMS, and the route distance of the optimal path is 245.6 km less than that of random path. From the cost distribution, the fuel power cost of the vehicle, labor cost in transportation, and consumables cost account for a large proportion, while the operation and management cost of the vehicle and depreciation cost of the tires account for a small proportion. The total cost of the optimal path is 26.5% lower than that of the random path, and the total carbon emissions are 36.3% lower than that of random path. Path optimization can thus significantly reduce the cost of different types and significantly reduce the proportion of vehicle fuel power cost and consumables cost, but the degree of cost reduction of different types is different. The result of the optimal path is the key to be explored in this study, and it can be used as the best reference for sheep transportation. The quantitative evaluation model established in this paper can systematically measure the cost and carbon emissions generated in the sheep transportation, which can provide theoretical support for practical application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Emergy-Based Sustainability Analysis of an Ecologically Integrated Model with Maize Planting for Silage and Pig-Raising in the North China Plain
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6485; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226485 - 18 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The structure of the pig-raising sector in China is changing towards large-scale and intensive systems or ecological pig-raising systems (EPRSs). To choose the best EPRS with high economic benefits and with low environmental consequences, this study combined economic analysis and emergy analysis methods [...] Read more.
The structure of the pig-raising sector in China is changing towards large-scale and intensive systems or ecological pig-raising systems (EPRSs). To choose the best EPRS with high economic benefits and with low environmental consequences, this study combined economic analysis and emergy analysis methods to evaluate several EPRSs. Having a large percentage of maize silage in the feed (max 40%) to replace some maize increased the economic benefit and sustainability of the EPRS and decreased the pressure on the environment. The raising system that consisted of Tuhe black pigs fed feed containing maize silage (EPRS C) performed especially well. The yield-based economic profit and area-based economic profit of EPRS C increased by 37%–54% and 3%–17%, respectively, compared to those of the three-breed crossbred pig-raising systems with or without maize silage added to the feed (EPRS A and EPRS B). Its unit emergy value and emergy loading ratio were 9–22% and 10–15% lower, respectively, than those of EPRS A and EPRS B. Furthermore, its emergy yield ratio and emergy sustainability index were about 2% and 14%–19% higher, respectively, than those of EPRS A and EPRS B. To some extent, the results from EPRS C give some guidelines on improving the performance of the ecological pig-raising sector in China. Moreover, using a high concentration of maize silage in the feed and an optimal local pig type may be beneficial for the sustainability of the ecological pig-raising sector in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Adoption of Multiple Sustainable Manure Treatment Technologies by Pig Farmers in Rural China: A Case Study of Poyang Lake Region
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6458; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226458 - 16 Nov 2019
Abstract
The adoption of sustainable manure treatment technologies (SMTTs) in livestock production helps to reduce agricultural contamination. As such, understanding what determines farmers’ adoption of SMTTs is an essential prerequisite for the administrative handling of livestock pollution. Applying a multivariate probit model on a [...] Read more.
The adoption of sustainable manure treatment technologies (SMTTs) in livestock production helps to reduce agricultural contamination. As such, understanding what determines farmers’ adoption of SMTTs is an essential prerequisite for the administrative handling of livestock pollution. Applying a multivariate probit model on a cross-sectional data set of 686 pig farmers in Poyang Lake Region in China, this study discovered that two key factors influencing farmers’ decisions to adopt multiple SMTTs are off-farm labor and environmental awareness. In other words, households with a higher share of off-farm labor are less likely to adopt SMTTs. Farmers with higher environmental awareness are more likely to adopt SMTTs. The results also revealed that because of the inappropriateness of government subsidy and insufficient technical training, the impact of Chinese government subsidy on the adoption of biogas technology is negligible, but the subsidy on composting greatly helps to promote the adoption of composting technology. We also found a substitution effect and complementary effects between different SMTTs. These findings can improve policymakers’ understanding of farmers’ joint adoption decisions. It also helps policymakers to optimize subsidy strategies to encourage farmers’ adoption of SMTTs in rural China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Typological Characterization of Organic Livestock Farms in the Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema Based on Technical and Economic Variables
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6002; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216002 - 28 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper describes the typological characterization of the Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema (NPSG) livestock farms using its communal pastures (N = 23, 100% of population) in order to study their sustainability from 160 technical, economic and social variables (from direct on-farm data [...] Read more.
This paper describes the typological characterization of the Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema (NPSG) livestock farms using its communal pastures (N = 23, 100% of population) in order to study their sustainability from 160 technical, economic and social variables (from direct on-farm data collection). A principal components analysis (PCA) produced four principal components related to size, livestock species, main productions and intensification level, explaining 73.6% of the variance. The subsequent cluster analysis classified the farms into four groups: C1 (medium size farms without sheep), C2 (large size and very extensive farms), C3 (farms with multipurpose sheep) and C4 (farms with dairy goat and without cattle). Forty-eight-point-seven percent of the surface was registered as organic but none of the farms’ commercialized products were organic. C2 and C3 (both having three ruminant species) are those farms that have more economic differences, the former generating the lowest profit, and the latter generating the highest; however, there is a risk to grasslands conservation from the current tendency that leads dairy farms to rapid intensification. Nevertheless, the very extensive farms are the most interesting for NPSG conservation and the administration should help to maintain the profitability of this sustainable traditional activity, which is necessary to conserve communal pastures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Feed Intake of Small Ruminants on Spring and Summer Pastures in the Mongolian Altai Mountains
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5759; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205759 - 17 Oct 2019
Abstract
Climate variability, rising livestock numbers, decreasing herd mobility, and clustered grazing patterns have incited concern about the sustainable use of Mongolia’s natural pastures as the nutritional backbone of the country’s livestock sector. In 2013 and 2014 we studied daily itineraries, grazing behaviour, and [...] Read more.
Climate variability, rising livestock numbers, decreasing herd mobility, and clustered grazing patterns have incited concern about the sustainable use of Mongolia’s natural pastures as the nutritional backbone of the country’s livestock sector. In 2013 and 2014 we studied daily itineraries, grazing behaviour, and feed and nutrient intake of small ruminants on spring and summer pastures in the southern Mongolian Altai, a remote livestock-dependent region. Offer of herbage dry matter (DM, kg ha−1) along the daily itinerary was higher in 2014 than in 2013 (837 versus 711; p > 0.05) but was comparable to previously reported values. Concentration of cell wall constituents in herbage increased from June to August in both years, whereas crude protein and phosphorus concentrations declined (p < 0.05). Animals grazed most actively at noon and in the afternoon; their daily DM intake amounted to 1151 ± 300.8 g per head, with 60–72% of the ingested feed being digested. Feed intake enabled the animals to cover their nutritional requirements for maintenance, locomotion, and sizeable growth, rebutting the notion of unsustainable use of the regional spring and summer pastures. However, crude protein and phosphorus intake were deficient, pointing to a decline in vegetation quality that has to be counteracted with appropriate herd and pasture management strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Grazing Affects the Ecological Stoichiometry of the Plant–Soil–Microbe System on the Hulunber Steppe, China
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5226; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195226 - 24 Sep 2019
Abstract
Grazing affects nutrient cycling processes in grasslands, but little is known by researchers about effects on the nutrient stoichiometry of plant–soil–microbe systems. In this study, the influence of grazing intensity (0, 0.23, 0.34, 0.46, 0.69, and 0.92 AU ha−1) on carbon [...] Read more.
Grazing affects nutrient cycling processes in grasslands, but little is known by researchers about effects on the nutrient stoichiometry of plant–soil–microbe systems. In this study, the influence of grazing intensity (0, 0.23, 0.34, 0.46, 0.69, and 0.92 AU ha−1) on carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and their stoichiometric ratios in plants, soil, and microbes was investigated in a Hulunber meadow steppe, Northeastern China. The C:N and C:P ratios of shoots decreased with grazing increased. Leaf N:P ratios <10 suggested that the plant communities under grazing were N-limited. Heavy grazing intensities increased the C:N and C:P ratios of microbial biomass, but grazing intensity had no significant effects on the stoichiometry of soil nutrients. The coupling relationship of C:N ratio in plant–soil–microbial systems was tightly significant compared to C:P ratio and N:P ratio according to the correlation results. The finding suggested grazing exacerbated the competition between plants and microorganisms for N and P nutrition by the stoichiometric changes (%) in each grazing level relative to the no grazing treatment. Therefore, for the sustainability of grasslands in Inner Mongolia, N inputs need to be increased and high grazing intensities reduced in meadow steppe ecosystems, and the grazing load should be controlled within G0.46. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainability and Environmental Inequality: Effects of Animal Husbandry Pollution in China
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4576; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174576 - 23 Aug 2019
Abstract
Environmental inequality in animal husbandry is an important issue that matters in sustainable livestock production and environmental sustainability. In this context, the objective of this study is to measure and analyze the chemical oxygen demand (COD) discharge inequality from animal husbandry in the [...] Read more.
Environmental inequality in animal husbandry is an important issue that matters in sustainable livestock production and environmental sustainability. In this context, the objective of this study is to measure and analyze the chemical oxygen demand (COD) discharge inequality from animal husbandry in the Liaoning province in China, as a case study in environmental inequality. Using the pollutant discharge coefficient method and environmental inequality indices, the study looks specifically at the impacts on unequal distribution and unequal economic efficiency in Liaoning in the period 2000 to 2016. The study explores the determinants of COD discharge inequality by constructing panel threshold regression models. The major findings are as follows. First, there is COD discharge inequality in distribution and in economic efficiency in Liaoning, and these were not reduced over time, despite a decline in the absolute quantity of COD discharge after 2013. Second, the impact of COD discharge inequality in economic efficiency lasted longer and was more serious across Liaoning compared with COD discharge inequality in distribution. Third, the quantitative upgrading of the agricultural industrial structure did not significantly reduce COD discharge inequality, and even led to a rise in inequality, especially in terms of economic efficiency. Ultimately, regional economic development turned out to be the key factor in inequality reduction. In addition, improvement in public fiscal support for science and technology also led to greater reduction in inequality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Inventory of Spatio-Temporal Methane Emissions from Livestock and Poultry Farming in Beijing
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143858 - 16 Jul 2019
Abstract
Livestock and poultry farming sectors are among the largest anthropogenic methane (CH4) emission sources, mainly from enteric fermentation and manure management. Previous inventories of CH4 emission were generally based on constant emission factor (EF) per head, which had some weaknesses [...] Read more.
Livestock and poultry farming sectors are among the largest anthropogenic methane (CH4) emission sources, mainly from enteric fermentation and manure management. Previous inventories of CH4 emission were generally based on constant emission factor (EF) per head, which had some weaknesses mainly due to the succession of breeding and feeding systems over decades. Here, more reliable long-term changes of CH4 emissions from livestock and poultry farming in Beijing are estimated using the dynamic EFs based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Tier 2 method, and high-resolution spatial patterns of CH4 emissions are also estimated with intensive field survey. The results showed that the estimated CH4 emissions derived by dynamic EFs were approximately 13–19% lower than those based on the constant EF before 2010. After 2011, however, the dynamic EFs-derived CH4 emissions were a little higher (3%) than the constant EF method. Temporal CH4 emissions in Beijing had experienced four developing stages (1978–1988: stable; 1989–1998: slow growth; 1999–2004: rapid growth and reached hot moments; 2005–2014: decline) during 1978–2014. Over the first two decades, the contributions of pigs (45%) and cattle (46%) to annual CH4 emission were similar; subsequently, the cattle emitted more CH4 compared to the pigs. At a spatial scale, Shunyi, Daxing, and Tongzhou districts with more cattle and pigs are the hotspots of CH4 emission. In conclusion, the dynamic EFs method obviously improved the spatio-temporal estimates of CH4 emissions compared to the constant EF approach, and the improvements depended on the period and aquaculture structure. Therefore, the dynamic EFs method should be recommended for estimating CH4 emissions from livestock and poultry farming in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Livestock Production)
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