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New Breeding Strategies in Organic Dairy Farming
2018-01, Rodriguez-Bermudez, Ruth, Miranda, Marta, López-Alonso, Marta, García-Vaquero, Marco, et al.
The selection of an appropriate breed in dairy farms will have a huge influence on the animals’ welfare and production. This is especially noticeable in animal production systems that aim to maximize the use of on-farm resources (low-input production), i.e., organic farms. The animal production in organic farming systems focuses on maximizing the utilization of forage and improving the animals’ health and welfare, while reducing the application of drugs routinely applied in the treatment and prevention of diseases in the conventional farms. Thus, the selection of animals adapted to these harsh farming conditions is essential for the success of an organic farm. However, the current animal breeding strategies adopted by the farmers do not differ between the intensive and the organic animal production systems; i.e., the Holstein-Friesian is the most commonly used breed in the organic and intensive dairy farms, despite the poor production and adaptability of these animals to the organic production systems. Recent studies showed that animals bred to produce high milk yields in the conventional systems are not capable to adapt to pasture-based systems. Cattle breeding strategies based on the selection of the animals for functional traits, or the efficiency of the cows to use scarce resources (inputs), could be a good strategy when selecting animals for organic farms. This chapter analyzes the animal breeding strategies currently performed in the organic farms, and discusses the novel strategies and animal breeds that could potentially benefit different organic dairy farming systems, including multifunctional farms.