Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

A comparison of mainstream and at risk cattle breeds for the management of the hills and uplands - LS3408

Description
The overall aim of this research is to compare the production performance, grazing behaviour and environmental impact of mainstream and at risk breeds of cattle, in order to provide a scientific basis for the development of future policies for the Less Favoured Areas (LFAs). The LFA research platform currently being set up at IGER Bronydd Mawr offers a valuable opportunity to directly compare grazing systems based on different breed types, and to quantify the economic and environmental implications of using traditional breeds. The overall aim of the main research programme at Bronydd Mawr (LS3407) is to design and test grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands. The systems proposed are designed to optimise stocking and husbandry of hill livestock to promote upland biodiversity, while making best use of the available resources. Bolting on an additional treatment to the main systems experiment offers an extremely cost effective way of obtaining important breeds information while enhancing the main research programme. The bolt-on project outlined in this proposal has two major objectives: 1) to compare the animal performance and grazing behaviour of a mainstream and at risk breed of cattle when grazed with sheep on upland permanent pasture, and 2) to compare the animal performance and grazing behaviour of a mainstream and at risk breed of cattle when grazing Molinia-dominant semi-natural rough grazing (SNRG). The research will be of major benefit to Defra Policy Division in indicating appropriate policies for the management of livestock production to sustain and enhance the environment in the LFAs, which account for almost half the agricultural land in the UK. This will underpin Defra’s stated policy aim of ensuring that consumers benefit from competitively priced food, which has been produced to high standards of safety, environmental care and animal welfare and from a sustainable, efficient food chain, and to contribute to the well-being of rural communities. The research will also contribute to the continuing debate on the effects of the Single Farm Payment on livestock farming in the uplands.
Objective
The overall aim of the new research programme at Bronydd Mawr is to design and test grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands. The systems proposed are designed to optimise stocking and husbandry of hill livestock to promote upland biodiversity, while making best use of the available resources.

The specific objectives of this bolt-on experiment are:
1. To compare the animal performance and grazing behaviour of a mainstream and at risk breed of cattle when grazed with sheep on upland permanent pasture
2. To compare the animal performance and grazing behaviour of a mainstream and at risk breed of cattle when grazing Molinia-dominant SNRG.
Project Documents
• Final Report : A comparison of mainstream and at risk cattle breeds for the management of the hills and uplands   (277k)
• Final Report - Annex : A comparison of mainstream and at risk cattle breeds for the management of the hills and uplands   (301k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2009

Cost: £275,929
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER), University Wales, Aberystwyth
Keywords
Agricultural Land              
Biodiversity              
Cattle              
Farming              
Hill Farming              
Landscape              
Less Favoured Areas              
Livestock Farming              
Natural Resource Use              
Rare Breeds              
Rural Communities              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Livestock