Topical Collection "Sustainable Livestock Production"

A topical collection in Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This collection belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Editor

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

Topical Collection 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
Collection 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 (36 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020, 2019

Open AccessArticle
Effect of Dietary Inclusion of Alpha-Monolaurin on the Growth Performance, Lipid Peroxidation, and Immunity Response in Broilers
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5231; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095231 - 07 May 2021
Viewed by 422
Abstract
As the world population increases, there will be an increase in demand for poultry meat. To satisfy this requirement, sustainably will be a significant challenge as different countries in the world face different health problems. Additionally, for decades, poultry nutritionists have worked on [...] Read more.
As the world population increases, there will be an increase in demand for poultry meat. To satisfy this requirement, sustainably will be a significant challenge as different countries in the world face different health problems. Additionally, for decades, poultry nutritionists have worked on sustainability in broiler manufacturing plants. The usage of short- and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which have positive effects as growth promoters and immunostimulants, is a pioneering way to decrease the cost of diets and improve environmentally friendly and sustainable production in this critical era. This study aimed at evaluating the influences of alpha-monoglyceride (alpha-monolaurin) on the growth performance, biochemical parameters, lipid profiles, liver oxidative stress, and immune response in broilers. Alpha-monolaurin was included at the levels of 0 (control), 0.25, 0.5, and 1 g/kg in broiler diets. After 33 days, dietary supplementation of alpha-monolaurin showed no impact on the feed intake; however, broilers fed 0.5 g/kg feed displayed a significantly reduced food conversion ratio, as compared to the control (p ≤ 0.05). However, body weight and body weight gain tended to increase after 0.25 g/kg alpha-monolaurin supplementation, as compared to other groups. The highest European production efficiency factor (EPEF) was obtained with 0.25 g/kg alpha-monolaurin supplementation. The ether extract utilization and spleen weight were improved substantially (p ≤ 0.05) by alpha-monolaurin supplementation, but muscle and other organ weights were not affected. Plasma alanine transaminase (ALT) was decreased significantly by alpha-monolaurin supplementation, while plasma total protein and albumin were enhanced (p ≤ 0.05). Interestingly, broilers fed alpha-monolaurin displayed an increased antibody titer of the Newcastle disease (ND) virus and muscle unsaturated fatty acid content, and a decreased liver content of malondialdehyde (MDA). It could be assumed that dietary supplementation of alpha-monolaurin positively impacts birds’ feed efficiency and immune response and can be applied as a natural immune enhancer in the broiler industry. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Natural and Chemical Colorant Supplementation on Performance, Egg-Quality Characteristics, Yolk Fatty-Acid Profile, and Blood Constituents in Laying Hens
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4503; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084503 - 18 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 281
Abstract
Natural and chemical colorants are attracting a lot of attention as sustainable feed additives due to their effect on food color and because presentation matters to consumers. Color also is a major sensory factor that helps consumers determine food quality and its possible [...] Read more.
Natural and chemical colorants are attracting a lot of attention as sustainable feed additives due to their effect on food color and because presentation matters to consumers. Color also is a major sensory factor that helps consumers determine food quality and its possible health benefits. For example, highly colored egg yolks can only come from healthy laying hens fed a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Consumers associate an intense yolk color with healthy, nutrient-rich food. There is a growing market request for eggs with rich yolk coloring. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the impact of natural (paprika) and chemical (carmoisine) colorant supplementation on the performance, egg-quality characteristics, yolk fatty-acid profile, and blood constituents in laying hens. A total of 240 Bovans laying hens were randomly distributed in a completely randomized design in four treatments according to four experimental diets: a control diet (without supplementation of any colorants), a control diet supplemented with 4 kg/ton paprika, a control diet supplemented with 150 g carmoisine/ton, and a control diet supplemented with a combination of 4 kg/ton paprika plus 150 g carmoisine/ton, fed from 42 to 54 weeks of age. Each treatment consisted of 10 replications with six hens. Dietary inclusion of paprika colorant improved (p < 0.05) the feed-conversion ratio and egg-production rate, while final body weight, weight change, feed intake, and egg weight and mass were not affected. The degrees of egg yolk and white were increased (p < 0.05) by the dietary supplements. Yolk color and shell thickness were enhanced (p < 0.05) by adding paprika and/or carmoisine colorants. Supplementation of the paprika colorant alone or in combination with carmoisine increased (p < 0.05) linolenic acid, oleic acid, and vitamin E concentrations in egg yolks. In contrast, egg yolk palmitic acid and liver malondialdehyde contents were decreased (p < 0.05). Paprika and carmoisine colorants and their combination improved (p < 0.05) blood lipid profile in treated hens. We concluded that the dietary supplementation of natural (paprika) colorants has an influential role in improving egg yolk color, production performance, and egg yolk fatty-acid profile in laying hens. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Dairy Farms and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): The Allocation Criterion Useful to Estimate Undesirable Products
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4354; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084354 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 225
Abstract
In this study, the life cycle assessment (LCA) principle was performed to estimate the environmental impact of three dairy farms that operate using different farming systems, namely, conventional (CON), organic (ORG), and high-quality (HQ) modes. In Italy, the typical style of high-quality (HQ) [...] Read more.
In this study, the life cycle assessment (LCA) principle was performed to estimate the environmental impact of three dairy farms that operate using different farming systems, namely, conventional (CON), organic (ORG), and high-quality (HQ) modes. In Italy, the typical style of high-quality (HQ) farming is commonly included in the conventional system but is more strictly regulated by the Decree of the Italian Ministry of Health N° 185/1991. Although the farms are not fully representative of each conduct, they showed intrinsic peculiarities, e.g., the cow-culling rate of each system. This rate requires a quantification as it may be related to loss of income. Allocation criteria were applied to attribute the quantities of pollutants to the co-products: wheat, involved in the congruence and number of cows culled, the latter being undesirable and therefore necessary to quantify. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) highlighted that the no-dairy products significantly mitigated (p < 0.05) some of the impacts’ categories. The allocation of culled cows decreased the impacts of the CON and particularly those of the ORG farms when the mass mode was adopted. HQ showed values similar to the results without allocation. Overall, the objective of identifying a “marker” of undesirable products, estimated by the culling rate, was partially achieved. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vegetation Response to Goats Grazing Intensity in Semiarid Hilly Grassland of the Loess Plateau, Lanzhou, China
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3569; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063569 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 303
Abstract
Quantitatively estimating the grazing intensity (GI) effects on vegetation in semiarid hilly grassland of the Loess Plateau can help to develop safe utilization levels for natural grasslands, which is a necessity of maintaining livestock production and sustainable development of grasslands. Normalized difference vegetation [...] Read more.
Quantitatively estimating the grazing intensity (GI) effects on vegetation in semiarid hilly grassland of the Loess Plateau can help to develop safe utilization levels for natural grasslands, which is a necessity of maintaining livestock production and sustainable development of grasslands. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), field vegetation data, and 181 days (one goat per day) of GPS tracking were combined to quantify the spatial pattern of GI, and its effects on the vegetation community structure. The spatial distribution of GI was uneven, with a mean value of 0.50 goats/ha, and 95% of the study area had less than 1.30 goats/ha. The areas with utilization rates of rangeland (July) lower than 45% and 20% made up about 95% and 60% of the study area, respectively. Grazing significantly reduced monthly aboveground biomass, but the grazing effects on plant growth rate were complex across the different plant growth stages. Grazing impaired plant growth in general, but the intermediate GI appeared to facilitate plant growth rate at the end of the growing seasons. Grazing had minimal relationship with vegetation community structure characteristics, though Importance Value of forbs increased with increasing GI. Flexibility in the number of goats and conservatively defining utilization rate, according to the inter-annual variation of utilization biomass, would be beneficial to achieve ecologically healthy and economically sustainable GI. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Systematic Mapping of Current Literature on Sustainability at Farm-Level in Beef and Lamb Meat Production
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2488; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052488 - 25 Feb 2021
Viewed by 517
Abstract
Beef and lamb meat production is associated with important cultural, economic and environmental impacts in most countries worldwide. However, it is also related with sustainability challenges. To enable cattle and sheep farming to develop in line with sustainability, existing knowledge need to be [...] Read more.
Beef and lamb meat production is associated with important cultural, economic and environmental impacts in most countries worldwide. However, it is also related with sustainability challenges. To enable cattle and sheep farming to develop in line with sustainability, existing knowledge need to be implemented and identified knowledge gaps filled. The purpose of this article was to systematically map the scientific literature on environmental, economic and social sustainability at farm-level beef and lamb meat production to identify knowledge gaps and to point to important future actions and areas of research. Papers published January 2000–August 2020 with a geographical origin in Europe, Northern America, and Australia-New Zealand were included. The systematic literature search resulted in a total of 1355 hits; however, after removing papers which were considered out of the scope of the study, and duplicate papers, only 22 and 11 papers related to beef and sheep farming, respectively were retained for further analysis. Of these, only 11 in total included all three sustainability dimensions. Several papers only mentioned one or two of the sustainability dimensions or put them in relation to that/those main dimension covered, thus limiting the extent to which possible synergies or tradeoffs between different sustainability aspects actually can be studied. This indicates a need for a more comprehensive approach when studying farm-level sustainability. Future research would benefit from a more holistic approach and include all dimensions of sustainability within the same study. Further, focus should also be on how to measure and assess sustainability aspects in a standardized way. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Potential of Locally-Sourced European Protein Sources for Organic Monogastric Production: A Review of Forage Crop Extracts, Seaweed, Starfish, Mussel, and Insects
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2303; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042303 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 471
Abstract
Organic monogastric agriculture is challenged because of a limited availability of regional and organic protein-rich ingredients to fulfill the amino acid requirements. The development of novel feed ingredients is therefore essential. The use of starfish (Asterias rubens), mussel (Mytilus edilus [...] Read more.
Organic monogastric agriculture is challenged because of a limited availability of regional and organic protein-rich ingredients to fulfill the amino acid requirements. The development of novel feed ingredients is therefore essential. The use of starfish (Asterias rubens), mussel (Mytilus edilus), insect, green and brown seaweed, and forage crop extracts exhibits different approaches to increase protein availability in a sustainable manner through improving the protein quality of existing ingredients, better use of under- or unutilized material, or development of circular bioeconomy. This review assessed limitations and opportunities of producing, processing, and using these novel ingredients in feed. The use of non-renewable resources and the effect on the environment of production and processing the feed ingredients are described. Protein concentration and amino acid quality of the feed ingredients are evaluated to understand their substitution potential compared with protein-rich soya bean and fishmeal. Feedstuffs’ effect on digestibility and animal performance is summarized. With the exception of seaweed, all novel ingredients show potential to partly substitute fishmeal or soya bean fulfilling part of the protein requirement in organic monogastric production. However, improvements during production and processing can be made to enhance protein quality, sustainability of the novel ingredients, and nutrient utilization of novel feed ingredients. Full article
Open AccessArticle
OVALI, Sustainability for Poultry®: A Method Co-Designed by Stakeholders to Assess the Sustainability of Chicken Supply Chains in Their Territories
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1329; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031329 - 27 Jan 2021
Viewed by 367
Abstract
Sustainability is a challenging issue for livestock production, with many expectations from citizens and consumers. Thus, in order to improve existing production systems or design new ones, there is a need for sustainability assessment tools. We propose here a method based on a [...] Read more.
Sustainability is a challenging issue for livestock production, with many expectations from citizens and consumers. Thus, in order to improve existing production systems or design new ones, there is a need for sustainability assessment tools. We propose here a method based on a participatory approach to assess the sustainability of chicken supply chains. A participating group composed of various French stakeholders (poultry industry operators, research and development scientists, non-governmental organizations, etc.) was consulted to gather the various existing visions of sustainability. Each decision was validated by this group, and this resulted in the creation of a consensual assessment grid, based on economic, social, and environmental pillars, summarized in 9 goals, 28 criteria, and 45 indicators. Each item was weighted by the participating group according to their relative importance. The grid was then tested on two different French supply chains, producing either free-range or conventional standard chickens. The strengths, weaknesses, and improvement margins of each supply chain were identified. For conventional standard production, an improvement scenario was proposed, based on changes in chicken feed and the renovation of chicken houses. This new supply chain improved many criteria in the three pillars; such as economic competitiveness, European protein autonomy, social acceptance, and lower greenhouse gas emission. In conclusion, this method provides a robust and powerful tool to help stakeholders to start their own autonomous improvement process, and thus progress towards a more sustainable chicken production. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021, 2019

Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Essential Oil Feed Supplementation on Enteric Gas Emissions and Production Parameters from Dairy Cattle
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10347; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410347 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 536
Abstract
Societal pressure to reduce enteric methane emissions from cattle continues to increase. The present study evaluated the efficacy of the commercial essential oil feed additive Agolin® Ruminant on reducing enteric gas emissions and improving milk parameters in dairy cattle. Twenty mid-lactation Holstein [...] Read more.
Societal pressure to reduce enteric methane emissions from cattle continues to increase. The present study evaluated the efficacy of the commercial essential oil feed additive Agolin® Ruminant on reducing enteric gas emissions and improving milk parameters in dairy cattle. Twenty mid-lactation Holstein cows, blocked by parity and days in milk, were randomly assigned to a top dress treatment with Agolin or an un-supplemented control for a 56-day trial. Cows were group housed and individually fed twice daily. Enteric gas emissions, including methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and nitrous oxide, were sampled every 14 days for a 12 h period via head chambers connected to a mobile air quality laboratory. Cows supplemented with Agolin versus the control had less methane intensity (g/period/kg energy-corrected milk (ECM); p = 0.025). Ammonia was the most affected gas, with lower ammonia production (mg/period; p = 0.028), and ammonia intensity (mg/period/kg ECM; p = 0.011) in Agolin-fed versus control-fed cows. All cow performance variables, including dry matter intake, ECM, milk fat, milk protein, or feed efficiency were similar between treatments. Further research should evaluate how Agolin impacts ruminal flora, focusing on mechanistic impacts to fermentation. Full article
Open AccessReview
Systematic Mapping of Research on Farm-Level Sustainability in Finfish Aquaculture
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9985; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239985 - 29 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 709
Abstract
The sustainability of future finfish aquaculture needs to be improved to meet global environmental challenges. Global fish aquaculture production has expanded significantly recently, due to the increased demand for fish for human consumption. Therefore, it is important to mitigate challenges to the sustainability [...] Read more.
The sustainability of future finfish aquaculture needs to be improved to meet global environmental challenges. Global fish aquaculture production has expanded significantly recently, due to the increased demand for fish for human consumption. Therefore, it is important to mitigate challenges to the sustainability of the sector, such as pollution and depletion of natural resources. In this study, we systematically mapped the scientific literature on farm-level sustainability in fish aquaculture. The concept of sustainability was considered holistically, covering its economic, environmental and social dimensions, each consisting of a range of different aspects that may contradict or reinforce each other. Literature published between January 2000 and August 2020 with the geographical focus on Europe, Northern America and Australia–New Zealand was included. The search resulted in a total of 287 hits, but after the exclusion of articles that did not match the scope, only 17 papers remained for the systematic mapping. Of these, five papers covered all three dimensions of sustainability. Economic sustainability was addressed in 10 papers, environmental sustainability in 13 papers and social sustainability in 12 papers. This systematic mapping provides an important foundation for discussions and prioritisations of future actions to increase knowledge on farm-level sustainability in finfish aquaculture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Integrated Indicator to Analyze Sustainability in Specialized Dairy Farms in Antioquia—Colombia
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9595; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229595 - 18 Nov 2020
Viewed by 379
Abstract
An integrated sustainability indicator in specialized dairy index (IISLE) is proposed for the evaluation of these production systems in four dimensions (financial, technical, social, and environmental). This index was validated in a study carried out with information from 18 dairy farms in Antioquia, [...] Read more.
An integrated sustainability indicator in specialized dairy index (IISLE) is proposed for the evaluation of these production systems in four dimensions (financial, technical, social, and environmental). This index was validated in a study carried out with information from 18 dairy farms in Antioquia, a Colombian milk production region. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) method was applied to prioritize criteria and sub-criteria. According to the proposed dimensions, four criteria were established (financial (ISDF), technical (ISDT), social (ISDS), and environmental (ISDA)) and 30 sub-criteria were analyzed. A multiple correlation analysis was performed to determine the intensity of the relationship among these four criteria and the overall index. The methodology includes a cluster analysis for the calculated IISLE. R software was used in the analysis. The proposed indicator is a powerful and useful planning and control tool for the evaluation of sustainability levels in dairy farms and is highly influenced by financial and technical criteria. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of an Essential Oil Blend on Dairy Cow Performance during Treatment and Post-Treatment Periods
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9123; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219123 - 02 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 687
Abstract
Essential oils (EOs) and their active components are attracting a lot of attention as sustainable feed additives due to their known antimicrobial properties against a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. They also have biological therapeutic, antioxidant, and flavor properties. They [...] Read more.
Essential oils (EOs) and their active components are attracting a lot of attention as sustainable feed additives due to their known antimicrobial properties against a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. They also have biological therapeutic, antioxidant, and flavor properties. They can be used for modifying the rumen environment and improving animal productivity. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of supplementation with 2.5 and 5 g/head/day of an essential oils blend (EOB) of clove, oregano, and juniper in equal proportions on milk production and quality, and physiological status of early lactating Holstein dairy cows for 8 weeks of treatment followed by 8 weeks of posttreatment. The results revealed an improvement in milk yield (p ≤ 0.02) and feed efficiency (p ≤ 0.001) with EOB at a dose of 2.5 g/head/day. The percentages of milk protein and lactose were increased (p ≤ 0.03) with a high dose of EOB inclusion during the treatment period as compared with the control group. Milk fat percentage, fat-corrected milk, and energy-corrected milk were not significantly affected by EOB supplementation. The supplementation of EOB tended to decrease milk total bacterial and somatic cell counts when compared to the control group. The supplementation of EOB at both doses increased serum total protein (p ≤ 0.02) and globulin (p ≤ 0.05), and decreased cholesterol level (p ≤ 0.001) and creatinine (p ≤ 0.001) as compared to the control group. Furthermore, the results show that the low dose of EOB had more desirable effects on milk yield, milk total bacterial count, milk somatic cell count, and feed efficiency than the high dose, suggesting that lower doses may not inhibit rumen microbial populations. Moreover, the low doses of EOB could be used as sustainable natural alternatives to antibiotics in livestock diets. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Sustainability and Quality Aspects of Different Table Egg Production Systems: A Literature Review
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7884; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197884 - 23 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 908
Abstract
Eggs are of considerable importance in feeding the population, as they are a relatively inexpensive and complex food source of very high biological value. The daily animal protein requirement for the human body can be covered with eggs in the cheapest way and [...] Read more.
Eggs are of considerable importance in feeding the population, as they are a relatively inexpensive and complex food source of very high biological value. The daily animal protein requirement for the human body can be covered with eggs in the cheapest way and with the lowest environmental impact. As animal welfare, as well as environmental and health awareness issues, become increasingly prominent in developed countries, consumer demand for eggs has also changed significantly in recent years, with an increasing number of consumers buying eggs produced in non-cage housing systems. In recent years, cage housing has been more frequently debated in EU member states. An initiative was launched in 2018 to end cage housing technologies and the sale of eggs produced in this way. However, in addition to animal welfare, a number of other factors need to be considered in relation to sustainable production. For this reason, the aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive overview of the sustainability issues of various housing technologies, as well as quality factors affecting consumer health and egg consumption based on the relevant international references and databases. Although there is a growing demand for products produced in non-cage housing systems due to the increasing relevance of environmental protection, health awareness and animal welfare issues in Western societies, research has shown that non-caged production is not the best solution for environmentally, socially and economically sustainable egg production. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Physicochemical and Preference Evaluation of Silages from Cucurbita argyrosperma Huber Residues and Its Effect on the Production and Composition of Milk from Dual-purpose Cows in Campeche, Mexico: Pilot Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7757; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187757 - 19 Sep 2020
Viewed by 563
Abstract
Livestock systems can contribute to food security by making use of available resources not suitable for human consumption such as Cucurbita argyrosperma Huber residue (CR). The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate preference and physicochemical characteristics of CR silages and their [...] Read more.
Livestock systems can contribute to food security by making use of available resources not suitable for human consumption such as Cucurbita argyrosperma Huber residue (CR). The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate preference and physicochemical characteristics of CR silages and their effect on milk production and milk composition from cows in a dual-purpose system in Campeche, Mexico. Three completely randomized experiments were performed. In experiment 1, physicochemical characteristics of four CR plus hay grass silages were evaluated: CR-77, CR-71, CR-65 and CR-59, containing 77%, 71%, 65% and 59% of CR, with 25%, 30%, 35% and 40% of estimated dry matter (DM), respectively. In experiment 2, silages intake preferences were determined in cattle. In experiment 3, the effect of CR silage or corn silage on milk production and milk composition of grazing cows in a dual-purpose system was evaluated. The results in experiment 1 showed that DM content differed between treatments (p < 0.05), ranging from 27.35% (CR-77) to 41.81% (CR-59) and estimated DM was similar to the actual values. pH and temperature were also different (p < 0.05). pH was different between CR-71 (4.01) and CR-59 (4.43), and temperature between CR-77 (28.87 °C) and CR-65 (29.5 °C). Crude protein (CP) was very low in all silages (<4%), particularly in CR-59 (2.8%) (p < 0.05), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) was significantly (p < 0.05) higher with CR-65 and CR-59 (average: 79.6%) than CR-77 and CR-71 (average 75.1%). There were no differences in intake preference (experiment 2), milk production (average 3.7 L) or milk composition (average protein: 3.27%, fat: 2.26%, lactose: 5.23%, solids non-fat: 9.17%) (experiment 3) (p > 0.05), but differences in DM intake of silages in experiment 3 were observed (p < 0.05). Even with the limitations of this pilot study, it is feasible to produce silages with CR with a good fermentation process as a feeding alternative for cows in a dual-purpose system in Campeche, Mexico. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Rye Inclusion in Diets for Broilers on Performance, Litter Quality, Foot Pad Health, Digesta Viscosity, Organ Traits and Intestinal Morphology
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7753; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187753 - 19 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 537
Abstract
Rye could offer diverse benefits in terms of sustainability if it could replace parts of the main cereals, corn and wheat, in broiler diets. A total of 256 broilers, Ross 308, were randomly allocated into 32 pens. From day 14 till day 42, [...] Read more.
Rye could offer diverse benefits in terms of sustainability if it could replace parts of the main cereals, corn and wheat, in broiler diets. A total of 256 broilers, Ross 308, were randomly allocated into 32 pens. From day 14 till day 42, the birds were divided into four feeding groups (eight replicates each). The control group received a conventional finisher diet “control”, whereas in the other groups, a pelleted supplementary feed was offered (SFI to corn and SFII to rye), to which crushed corn (SFI-Corn) or squashed rye (SFII-Rye) was added. The fourth group received a mixture of 50% SFI-Corn and 50% SFII-Rye. The cereal level was increased weekly (5%, 10%, 20%, 30%) at the expense of the supplementary feeds. No significant effects were observed for body weight at d 42 and excreta viscosity between all groups. Overall, foot pad health was excellent. Compared to the control group, birds fed SFI-Corn displayed a significant increase in gizzard relative weight, whereas, in contrast to all other groups, ileal villus height was significantly lower. In conclusion, feeding SFI-Corn or SFII-Rye diets had no negative influences on performance, litter quality and digesta viscosity, whereas SFI-Corn partially affected ileal morphology. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Economic Impact of Climate Risk on Extensive Livestock: The Case of Lamb Production in Extremadura, Spain
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7254; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187254 - 04 Sep 2020
Viewed by 563
Abstract
This paper presents an evaluation of the economic cost of precipitation shortage in the production of lamb in Extremadura. Given that the production strategy is based on maintaining a productivity target by supplementing natural pastures in contexts of water scarcity, the approach will [...] Read more.
This paper presents an evaluation of the economic cost of precipitation shortage in the production of lamb in Extremadura. Given that the production strategy is based on maintaining a productivity target by supplementing natural pastures in contexts of water scarcity, the approach will be based on the analysis of the cost structure of the sector. A monetized cash flow model will be presented, which allows us to evaluate economic impacts through a financial perspective. The study focuses on a set of 1583 farms associated into the cooperative EA Group. These members have a total of 804,000 animals, which represents more than 40% of total sheep in Extremadura. Results shows a relation between precipitation minimums and feed quantity maximums of the series analyzed. Mayor direct impact is represented by an increase in feed supplementation needs, with an economic estimation of 54 million euros over two years for the whole sector. At the farm level, there is an average reduction of profits of 50% in the case of owned land, and bankruptcy in the case of renting land. In the context of data-driven policy making, this estimate provides a tool for European Policy funding negotiation a in sector which is considered as highly strategic because of its positive impacts on the environment, the generation of employment and maintenance of rural populations in marginal areas and for the production of high-quality food with a minimal use of natural resources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Moringa oleifera Foliage Substituted for Concentrate Feed on Growth, Nutrient Digestibility, Hematological Attributes, and Blood Minerals of Growing Goats under Abu Dhabi Conditions
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6096; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156096 - 29 Jul 2020
Viewed by 514
Abstract
To avoid the depletion and degradation of natural resources and to maintain long-term environmental quality and sustainability, the present study investigated the impacts of Moringa oleifera foliage (MF) as a replacement for concentrate feed on growth performance, blood hematology, serum metabolites, and serum [...] Read more.
To avoid the depletion and degradation of natural resources and to maintain long-term environmental quality and sustainability, the present study investigated the impacts of Moringa oleifera foliage (MF) as a replacement for concentrate feed on growth performance, blood hematology, serum metabolites, and serum mineral profile in growing goats. A total of 30 growing local goats (4 months old ± 7 days, with an average weight of 15.80 kg ± 147 g), were randomly allotted to five treatment groups comprising 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of MF replacing the concentrate feed as daily feed. The MF75 and MF100 percent diets decreased (p < 0.05) final body weight (FBW), average daily gain (ADG), and crude protein (CP) of the diet. Moreover, MF up to 75% improved acid detergent fiber (ADF) digestibility. Feeding MF at different levels did not have any deleterious effects on blood chemistry parameters. Urea, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) values were depressed (p < 0.05), due to increasing the MF (MF50, MF75, and MF100) level in the diet of growing goats kept in an arid region, when compared to the control group. Both of MF75 and MF100 led to a decrease (p < 0.05) in phosphorous (P) level, compared with the other groups. The results were interpreted that feeding MF to replace 25% DM of the concentrate feed had no adverse effects on growth performance, feed utilization, serum metabolites, and serum minerals in growing goats reared under arid conditions. The increasing of MF level up to 50% or more significantly altered ADG and blood levels of creatinine, urea and ALP. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Research on Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability in Dairy Farming: A Systematic Mapping of Current Literature
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5502; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145502 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1675
Abstract
Dairy cows are able to convert fibrous materials, such as grass, roughage, and by-products from the food industry, into milk and meat, which justifies their role in food production. However, modern dairy farming is associated with major sustainability challenges, including greenhouse gas emissions. [...] Read more.
Dairy cows are able to convert fibrous materials, such as grass, roughage, and by-products from the food industry, into milk and meat, which justifies their role in food production. However, modern dairy farming is associated with major sustainability challenges, including greenhouse gas emissions. In order to develop sustainable future production, it is important to implement existing knowledge and fill knowledge gaps. The aim of this study was to systematically map the scientific literature on environmental, economic, and social sustainability at farm level in dairy farming. Literature published between January 2000 and March 2020 and with the geographical focus on Europe, North America, and Australia–New Zealand was included. In total, the literature search resulted in 169 hits, but after removing duplicates and papers outside the study scope only 35 papers remained. Of these, only 11 dealt with the three dimensions of sustainability, and several of these only mentioned one or two of the dimensions or set them in relation to that/those actually studied. Overall, the selected literature did not clearly explain how aspects of sustainability are interlinked, so possible negative or positive interactions between different aspects of sustainability dimensions remain unidentified. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cardoon Meal (Cynara cardunculus var. altilis) as Alternative Protein Source during Finishing Period in Poultry Feeding
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5336; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135336 - 01 Jul 2020
Viewed by 540
Abstract
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s previsions show that by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion people, and the request for a high value protein source will increase as well. Poultry can guarantee high value protein for humans, even in the poorest [...] Read more.
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s previsions show that by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion people, and the request for a high value protein source will increase as well. Poultry can guarantee high value protein for humans, even in the poorest regions of the world. Hence, efficient poultry production is needed, matching with sustainable development. The residual meal from cardoon seed oil (used for biodiesel and biodegradable bioplastic production) is suitable for animal feeding due to its protein content. The aim of this preliminary study was to test for a possible use of cardoon meal as a protein source in a poultry diet during the finishing period. Forty-five Kabir chickens were divided into three groups and fed three diets in which soybean meal (control) was partially (16%) or completely replaced with cardoon meal as a protein source (treated groups). In vivo performances, animal welfare, dressing out and meat color were evaluated. No statistical differences in feed efficiency, dressing out, nor in meat quality were found among groups. Moreover, birds that were fed cardoon meal showed lower perivisceral fat. Therefore, cardoon meal could be considered as an alternative for soybean meal in the finishing period in poultry feeding. Full article
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
A Systematic Mapping of Research on Sustainability Dimensions at Farm-level in Pig Production
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4352; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114352 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1631
Abstract
We systematically mapped the scientific literature on the sustainability of pig production at farm-level. Sustainability was considered holistically, covering its economic, environmental, and social dimensions, each consisting of a broad range of different aspects that may contradict or reinforce each other. Literature published [...] Read more.
We systematically mapped the scientific literature on the sustainability of pig production at farm-level. Sustainability was considered holistically, covering its economic, environmental, and social dimensions, each consisting of a broad range of different aspects that may contradict or reinforce each other. Literature published between January 2000 and March 2020 with a geographical focus on Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand was included. A standard template with predefined keywords was used to summarise aspects of each sustainability dimension covered in identified papers. We found that papers analysing environmental sustainability were more frequent than papers analysing economic or social sustainability. However, there are many different aspects within each dimension of sustainability, hampering comparisons between studies. In addition, each dimension of sustainability has many sides, making it difficult to compare different studies, and different dimensions and aspects may have complex interrelations. Our systematic literature review revealed that these interrelations are not well understood and that possible trade-offs or synergies between different aspects of sustainability dimensions remain unidentified. This systematic mapping of the current literature on farm-level sustainability in pig production can support a more informed discussion on knowledge gaps and help prioritise future research at farm-level to enhance sustainability in pig production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Grazing Management Influences Gut Microbial Diversity of Livestock in the Same Area
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4160; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104160 - 20 May 2020
Viewed by 709
Abstract
The composition of gut microbiota is closely related to health and nutrition of livestock. Research on the interaction between gut microbiota in livestock and grazing management strategies is unfortunately sparse. By studying the compositions of gut microbiota in sheep and goats in a [...] Read more.
The composition of gut microbiota is closely related to health and nutrition of livestock. Research on the interaction between gut microbiota in livestock and grazing management strategies is unfortunately sparse. By studying the compositions of gut microbiota in sheep and goats in a single, mixed grazing population under the control of herdsman, as well as those of free-range camels in the same area of Qaidam Basin, we found that the composition of gut microbiota between sheep and goats showed no significant difference. However, there were significant differences between mixed group and camels at α- and β-diversities. We speculate that grazing management can shape gut microbial diversity indirectly. Mixed grazing under the control of herdsman lead to similarities in the diversity of gut microbiota among different species and limit their diversities of gut microbiota, which is not conducive to healthy growth of the host. On the contrary, free-range grazing is better for the diversity of gut microbiota. In order to sustainably manage populations of livestock, gut microbiota analysis may prove to be an important indicator for evaluating the merits of different grazing management strategies. Our results lay a foundation to improve the health of livestock and grazing management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Environmental Impacts of Beef as Corrected for the Provision of Ecosystem Services
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3828; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093828 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 758
Abstract
We aimed to assess whether the environmental impacts in terms of global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential (AP), eutrophication potential (EP), and land occupation (LO) of beef can be decreased when ecosystem and cultural/provisioning services are included in the evaluation. We used four [...] Read more.
We aimed to assess whether the environmental impacts in terms of global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential (AP), eutrophication potential (EP), and land occupation (LO) of beef can be decreased when ecosystem and cultural/provisioning services are included in the evaluation. We used four Italian production systems: Fat, with beef imported calves kept in confinement; CoCaI, with beef cows and calves kept in confinement; SpEx, with beef cows and calves kept on pasture and finishing conducted in confinement; and Pod, with Podolian cows and calves kept on pasture and finishing conducted in confinement. After the economic allocation, the GWP of system Pod decreased considerably and showed values lower than those computed for systems CoCaI and SpEx (P < 0.05 and P < 0.001, respectively). System Pod showed the lowest AP and EP as compared with all the other systems (P < 0.01). Systems Fat and CoCaI showed the smallest LO, with values lower than systems Pod (P < 0.05) and SpEx (P < 0.001). We conclude that the environmental impacts of extensive and local beef production systems in terms of GWP, AP, and EP was markedly reduced when the provision of accessory services was included in the calculation. Conversely, LO did not markedly change due to the high absolute values needed to allow pasture-based feeding. The estimation of additional positive aspects linked to the use of natural pastures, such as removal of carbon dioxide, increased biodiversity, and exploitation of feeds nonedible by humans, may allow a further reduction of LO. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Evaluation of the Effect of Dolomitic Lime Application on Pastures—Case Study in the Montado Mediterranean Ecosystem
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3758; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093758 - 06 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 517
Abstract
The Montado ecosystem, predominant in the Mediterranean region, consists of poor soils, a sparse cover of cork and holm with an understory of natural biodiverse pastures, grazed by animals in extensive regime. The recommended procedure for increasing productivity of these pastures is based [...] Read more.
The Montado ecosystem, predominant in the Mediterranean region, consists of poor soils, a sparse cover of cork and holm with an understory of natural biodiverse pastures, grazed by animals in extensive regime. The recommended procedure for increasing productivity of these pastures is based on the application of phosphate fertilizer. One of the main productivity-limiting factors is, however, associated with soil acidity. The objective of this work was to evaluate the simultaneous effect of the holm oak canopy and the application of dolomitic lime on the productivity and quality of a permanent biodiverse pasture, grazed by sheep, in an acid soil (pH = 5.4 ± 0.3). Pasture was monitored at the end of autumn 2018 and winter and spring 2019. The results show that amendment of soil acidity is a slow and gradual process that improves soil Mg/Mn ratio and has a positive impact on pasture productivity and quality. Pasture crude protein availability (CP, kg·ha−1), which is based on both pasture dry matter yield (kg·ha−1) and quality (CP, %), proved to be a very practical indicator of the contributions of tree canopy and soil acidity correction to the holistic management of the Montado ecosystem. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Composting as Manure Disposal Strategy in Small/Medium-Size Livestock Farms: Some Demonstrations with Operative Indications
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3315; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083315 - 19 Apr 2020
Viewed by 753
Abstract
The livestock sector plays a fundamental role in human beings’ livelihood all over the world. However, significant changes have occurred in the last decades, transforming the livestock sector into a highly intensive economic activity with negative impacts on human health and the environment. [...] Read more.
The livestock sector plays a fundamental role in human beings’ livelihood all over the world. However, significant changes have occurred in the last decades, transforming the livestock sector into a highly intensive economic activity with negative impacts on human health and the environment. Such a reality requires the identification of easy methods to apply to sustainable manure management. Composting is a clever approach to transform manure into a resource. Very limited scientific literature is available on techniques for composting in small and medium livestock farms. This paper describes, in detail, some on-farm composting plants made in Southern Italy within different rural contexts. A depth analysis of farm starting situation and nearby territory (resources/services) was performed to identify the least expensive/impactful composting logistics (reduction of ex novo farm investments and transport costs, etc.), making the action economically sustainable for farmers. This approach appears to be successful in guiding farmers towards the best composting technological option, based on pre-existent on-farm resources. These small-scale composting plants, reproducible in other similar contexts, allow one to turn manure into a product with a profitable placement on the market. For this reason, these manure management options should be widespread, especially under organic farming systems. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Sustainability Assessment of Goat and Sheep Farms: A Comparison between European Countries
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3099; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083099 - 12 Apr 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1556
Abstract
European sheep and goat farming faces diverse challenges at global or local scales and constitutes an important sector for many countries, playing important sociocultural, economic and environmental roles. A closer examination of the overall sustainability of the sector is necessary to assess the [...] Read more.
European sheep and goat farming faces diverse challenges at global or local scales and constitutes an important sector for many countries, playing important sociocultural, economic and environmental roles. A closer examination of the overall sustainability of the sector is necessary to assess the performance of different farm types in various geographical settings. This comparative study evaluates the use of a common sustainability assessment (SA) tool for the major European countries in the sheep and goat sector. In particular, the study reports the results of a SA using the Public Goods (PG) Tool, adapted within the Innovation for Sustainable Sheep and Goat Production in Europe (iSAGE) Horizon 2020 project, which includes questions accounting for 13 dimensions of a sheep and goat farm sustainability. In total, 206 farmers from Greece, Italy, Spain, Finland, United Kingdom, France and Turkey were interviewed, all of which were typical of specific types of a pan-European sheep and goat farm typologies elaborated within iSAGE. The study resulted in composite indicators of performance in each dimension for each country. Finland, Italy and the United Kingdom performed better than other countries, while Turkey and Greece performed below average in most categories. The results highlight challenges for each country but also at the European level, the latter mainly relating to generational renewal and an unwillingness to invest in the adoption of a more sustainable approach with long-term results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Does the Consumption of Acidified Drinking Water Affect Growth Performance and Lymphoid Organs of Broilers?
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3093; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083093 - 12 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 658
Abstract
This study was conducted to compare the effects of single and synergistic organic acids (formic (F) and butyric (B) acids) on the performance and lymphoid organs of broiler chicks. In total, 450 one-day-old ISA JA57 chicks were assigned randomly to nine groups, each [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to compare the effects of single and synergistic organic acids (formic (F) and butyric (B) acids) on the performance and lymphoid organs of broiler chicks. In total, 450 one-day-old ISA JA57 chicks were assigned randomly to nine groups, each of five replicates (10 chicks/replicate): The control group, without added acids; groups 2 and 3, with 0.2% and 0.3% formic acid, respectively; groups 4 and 5, with 0.2% and 0.3% butyric acid, respectively; group 6, with 0.2% formic acid and 0.3% butyric acid; group 7, with 0.2% butyric acid and 0.3% formic acid; groups 8 and 9, with 0.2% butyric and formic acids and 0.3% butyric and formic acids, respectively. The control group received tap water, and other treatment groups received acidified drinking water, as previously described. The results indicated that treatment resulted in a significantly higher (p < 0.05) average live weight and weight gain at four weeks of age than in the control group. Nevertheless, group 7 showed significant decreases in the feed conversion ratio compared with the other treatments between four and five weeks of age. The carcass percentage was highest when B3, F3B2, and B2 were added to the drinking water, whereas control and F2B3 showed lower carcass percentage than the other treatments. At 42 days of age, the addition of organic acids to the drinking water of broilers had significant effects on the bursa of Fabricius and thymus percentages, but no effect on the spleen percentage. Water acidification by F and B alone and in combination did not affect poultry performance. However, it improved the lymphoid organ weight, indicating improved immunity and carcass percentage at 42 days of age. Full article
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Systematic Mapping of Research on Farm-Level Sustainability in Egg and Chicken Meat Production
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 3033; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12073033 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1935
Abstract
The sustainability of future poultry production needs to be improved in order to meet global challenges. The global chicken population has expanded significantly in recent decades, due to increased human demand for eggs and chicken meat. Therefore, it is critically important to mitigate [...] Read more.
The sustainability of future poultry production needs to be improved in order to meet global challenges. The global chicken population has expanded significantly in recent decades, due to increased human demand for eggs and chicken meat. Therefore, it is critically important to mitigate challenges to the sustainability of modern poultry production, such as pollution, the depletion of finite natural resources and animal welfare issues. This study systematically mapped the scientific literature on farm-level sustainability in egg and chicken meat production. The concept of sustainability was considered holistically, covering its economic, environmental and social dimensions, each consisting of a broad range of different aspects that may contradict or reinforce each other. The literature published between January 2000 and March 2020 with a geographical focus on Europe, North America and Australia–New Zealand, were included. The literature search resulted in a total of 428 hits, but after the exclusion of articles that did not match the scope of the study, only 26 papers remained for the systematic mapping. Of these, only three papers covered all three dimensions of sustainability. Aspects of economic sustainability were addressed in 10 papers, aspects of environmental sustainability in 18 papers, and aspects of social sustainability in 23 papers. The findings in this study are an important foundation for the discussion and prioritisation of future actions to increase knowledge of farm-level sustainability in egg and chicken meat production. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
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
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1659
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
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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
Viewed by 900
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
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 657
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
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2019

Jump to: 2021, 2020

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 2 | Viewed by 586
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
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 620
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
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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 4 | Viewed by 807
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
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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
Viewed by 623
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
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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
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 804
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
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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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 846
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
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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
Viewed by 985
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
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