Organic & Low Input Ruminant Production
Distance Learning Starts May 2017
This module will examine the concepts behind ruminant production in a low input or organic system. It will consider alternative methods of production, from unique forages and sward mixtures to interesting animal breeds that could provide a more tailored product for niche markets. The course will also look at natural methods of disease control that can be adopted by low input or organic systems.
The module’s units will consist of:
- Overview of production systems – why organic or low-input? organic standards; defining low-input; different ruminant systems.
- Low-input markets – overview of supply chains and economics; niche markets; alternative income streams.
- Nutrition in low-input systems – mixed swards and novel grass breeds; forage/feed balance; pasture-fed only.
- Home grown feeds – current research into a selection of home-grown feeds.
- Nutrient flow – overview of nutrient cycling in ruminant systems and emission reduction.
- Grazing management – overview of different grazing systems and the role of trees in pasture.
- Breeding – selective breeding methods and suitability of breeds and species for low-input systems.
- Disease control and positive welfare approaches – preventative measures to reduce disease risk; possible strategies for welfare enhancement; parasite control and forages for health.
- Ruminants in mixed-farming systems – rationale for and design of mixed-farming systems; introducing horticulture into ruminant farming and incentives for diversification.
- The future for low-input farming – challenges and opportunities; ecosystem services; potential use of precision farming techniques.
Contributions from: Dr Pip Nicholas, Tony Little, Dr Mariecia Fraser, Dr Christina Marley, Dr Sally O’Donovan, Dr Frederic Bourdin, Dr Peter Dennis, Dr Jane Thomas, Luppo Diepenbroek, Tim Bevan, Prof Nigel Scollan.
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