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Last update: May 2021

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WP3 - Simulation Results

Simulation Results
The impacts of several innovations have been tested on the different case studies identified in WP2. These innovations encompass fast rotational grazing (rapid rotation of animals on small plots) in order to maximise the value of the grass produced on the farm, cross-breeding to have beef animals that could be fattened more easily with gass based diets or more dairy offspring crossbred with beef bulls to inccrease meat production per animal. Alternative resources that are not competiting with human food were also tested: algae and catch crop to feed animals.

The WP3 focus on the implementation of scenarios in FarmDyn. The term “scenarios” are used to help understand how changes to the baseline can affect the outcomes and not as defined in prospective approach. At the end, 43 different scenarios were obtained. However, as some innovations can have different levels (as example the price of algae), finally 111 simulations were realised and the results of these simulation were compared to the baseline system in terms of their profitability, environment impacts, protein and energy efficiencies. 

Results can be found on Christoph Pahmeyer web page: 

The global results indicated that potential innovations have to be analysed in the context of a region and particularities of the farms where they are planned to be implemented. New feedstuff originating from other sectors, like algae, have the potential to both reduce feed food competition and improve sustainability. However, the success of such an innovation depend, for example, on its price, if too high, it is not adopted, but if too low, it may replace otherwise more desirable feedstuff from an overall sustainability point of view, such as grass silage. New breeding strategies, like crossbreeding and semen sexing, may improve sustainability as higher yielding animals are selected, and the amount of animals for herd replacement is reduced. However, this may lead to “over intensification”, for instance, by increasing the share of concentrates being fed to animals with unfavourable environmental footprints as a result. Fast rotational grazing, and the use of catch crop for livestock feeding, were among the most promising innovations, although their implementation might be hampered by limited access to adjacent fields and distance from the farmyard.

We make a focus here on two innovations : grass fattening through dynamic rotational grazing and cross-breeding. In our case, the crossbreeding is done either with the aim of producing animals that are better adapted to grazing, or to produce calves with a more carcass conformation via the terminal crossbreeding technique. In order to take into account the final meat production, the production systems were combined. Indeed, in Wallonia, the systems are generally specialised either in young bulls prodcution or in fattening them. These two systems were therefore combined in order to offer a finished product that can be consumed by humans. The first approach is therefore to maximise the value of the grass produced on the farm using the technique of fast rotational grazing (rapid rotation of animals on small plots). The results show that for an intensive cow-calf system, dynamic rotational grazing (Figure 3 - FRG) is of limited interest. Indeed, only a slight improvement of the different criteria (greenhouse gas production, feed-food competition, workload and income) is observed.

Figure 3: Simulation results for the alternative scenarios: values of global warming potential (kg CO2-eq/kg carcass), net protein efficiency, labour time (minute/kg carcass) and farm profit (€) for the 6 scenarios (Walloon, Franco-Italian and German systems). Base: reference system, FRG: fast rotational grazing and SR: complete redesign of the system. In blue: the combined calf and fattening system. In red: crossbreeding with dairy cows for beef production

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