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Optimal grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands - LS3402

The overall aim of this research is to design and test grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands, which meet environmental, market and economical objectives. These systems need to be developed to ensure that farming at lower stocking densities will be more economically viable by improving livestock quality. The systems will be designed to a) optimise stocking and husbandry of hill livestock to minimise damage to upland biodiversity, while making best use of the available resources, b) produce high quality, naturally reared animals that meet consumer demands using environmentally sustainable and welfare-friendly systems and c) utilise improved upland pastures in a cost-effective way. However, before such systems can be designed and tested, there is a need to identify the constraints. Therefore, the specific objectives of the research are to establish the constraints to the modification of cattle:sheep ratios in hill and upland areas and assess the impacts of different grazing systems on pasture utilisation, pasture structure, farm resource allocation, product quality and financial returns. Constraints will be identified by reviewing and monitoring current practices on commercial farms, theoretical exploration using modelling and field experimentation.
This research will help to design systems of integrating cattle and sheep in the Less Favoured Areas (LFAs). However, before the benefits can be realised it will be essential to test such systems in field research. It is proposed that this be done when the project will be re-commissioned for the remaining period of the assessment unit.
The research will be of major benefit to MAFF 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 MAFF'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 might also be helpful in informing modifications that will secure a more economically rational Common Agricultural Policy.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Optimal grazing managment systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands   (461k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2000

To: 2004

Cost: £634,289
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER)
Animal Production              
Hill Farming              
Livestock Farming              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study