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Ertl P.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Knaus W.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Steinwidder A.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity
Organic Agriculture | Year: 2014

Feeding grain-based concentrates to dairy cows is linked to a number of negative aspects, such as animal health concerns and ethical concerns regarding the feeding of food edible for humans to ruminants. This study investigated farms where no concentrates have been fed to dairy cows for a period of several years. Basic data from eight Austrian organic dairy farms where no concentrates were fed (C0) was collected for the years 2010 and 2011. This data was compared with results from 131 and 140 Austrian organic dairy farms included in a federal program (milk production working group) for the years 2010 and 2011, respectively. These farms were divided into three groups, depending on the amount of concentrates (fresh matter basis) fed per cow annually (WG1, up to 975 kg; WG2, 976–1400 kg; WG3, more than 1400 kg). Energy-corrected milk yield increased from 5093 kg in C0 to 6828 kg in WG3. Calculated milk yield per cow from forage, however, decreased from 5083 kg (C0) to 4412 kg (WG3). Veterinary costs were lower on farms without concentrate supplementation. Insemination index and non-return rate did not differ between groups. The calving interval, however, was prolonged in C0 when compared to WG3 (410 for C0 and 388 days for WG3, P = 0.026). Although milk yield was lowest in C0, no differences in the marginal income (revenues minus direct costs) per cow could be found. In conclusion, this data showed that animal health and profitability were not negatively affected on farms without concentrate supplementation. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Steinwidder A.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | Horn M.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Pfister R.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | Rohrer H.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | Gasteiner J.,11 Health
Livestock Science | Year: 2015

The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of prepartum reticuloruminal pH values on postpartum pH values of lactating cows at two concentrate supplementation levels. An indwelling pH measurement system with a wireless data transmitting unit was given to 9 heifers and 11 cows orally 2 weeks before expected calving. The pH was measured from week 2 prepartum to week 6 postpartum. Prepartum, all animals were fed hay and grass silage only. After parturition the animals were assigned to one of two concentrate supplementation levels (Con and Low). During the first 6 weeks postpartum, 5.6kg and 2.9kg dry matter per day of concentrates were fed to cows in groups Con and Low, respectively. Before parturition, no effect of the week on the mean pH was found, but pH values varied considerably between individual animals. During the last week prior parturition, the median, lower and upper quartile values of the mean pH values were 6.47, 6.41 and 6.59 for heifers and 6.29, 6.19 and 6.39 for cows, respectively. Standard deviations of the mean pH values for heifers and cows were 0.15 and 0.12, respectively. After parturition, no diet effect on the mean pH and maximum pH values was found. The minimum pH differed between Con and Low, but the absolute levels were almost equal (6.02 and 6.04, resp.). A strong correlation (r>0.8; P<0.01) between the mean pH value before parturition (pHweek-1) and pH values after parturition was found. Animals having lower pH levels before parturition continued to have lower mean pH and minimum pH values during weeks 1 to 6 postpartum. Furthermore, these animals had stronger short term fluctuations of H3O+ concentrations and a longer time span with pH values below 6.2. The results support the theory of the existence of cow-specific baselines concerning rumen pH, pointing to individual differences in the rumen environment, fermentation and metabolism and emphasising the importance of further research on this topic. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Horn M.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Knaus W.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Kirner L.,Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics | Steinwidder A.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity
Organic Agriculture | Year: 2012

Over the past few decades, the main focus in dairy cow breeding in Europe and North America has been on maximising milk yield per lactation, but more and more, dairy farmers are faced with severe declines in fitness traits and therefore reduced longevity. This is not only questionable from a sustainability perspective but also from an economic point of view. The aim of this study was to highlight the economic importance of longevity in organic dairy cattle husbandry. To this end, performance and reproductive data of 44,976 Austrian organic Simmental dairy cows were grouped according to longevity and milk yield and analysed by applying a bio-economic model. Profit per year was calculated using full cost accounting. Two farm scenarios were modelled and assessed: limited milk quota and limited stocking rate, as well as different market situations (abolition of milk quota and varying concentrate and milk prices). Cows reached maximum annual milk yield in the 5th lactation. Overall costs declined with increasing longevity due to dropping replacement costs. Annual profit was influenced considerably by milk yield and longevity. It reached its peak in the 6th lactation. Short-lived animals needed substantially higher annual milk yields than long-lived animals to achieve equal annual profits. The market scenarios applied showed an increasing importance of longevity in situations of increasing economic pressure (+20 % of concentrate and -20 % of milk price). It has been clearly proven that extending longevity allows lower milk yield levels without decreasing profitability. Considerable lower use of concentrates and reduced dependence on off-farm inputs and market fluctuations are further benefits. © 2012 Springer Science & Business Media BV.


Baldinger L.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Hagmuller W.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | Minihuber U.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | Schipflinger M.,Performance Recording Salzburg | Zollitsch W.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems | Year: 2015

Organically produced pork occupies only a small niche in the European meat market, with one of the main reasons being the shortage of locally produced high-quality protein sources. In an effort to promote currently under-utilized protein sources, two feeding trials were conducted with grass pea seeds as feed for weaned piglets. The grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) is a hardy grain legume that produces protein-rich seeds, but, as other grain legumes, it contains several anti-nutritive compounds. Apart from trypsin inhibitors and tannins, it also contains the neurotoxin β-N-oxalyl-L-α,β-diaminopropionic acid (ODAP) which may cause nerve damage in farm animals as well as humans. The content of both trypsin inhibitors and ODAP can be greatly reduced by hydrothermal treatment; therefore both raw and hydrothermally treated grass pea seeds were used in the two feeding trials. Diets were fed to 152 and 144 piglets [crosses of (Pietrain × Duroc) × (Landrace × Large White)] respectively, during their rearing phase directly after weaning. In experiment 1, a control diet was compared with two diets containing 10 and 20% raw grass pea seeds, plus one diet with 20% treated grass pea seeds, respectively (as fed basis). In experiment 2, a control diet was compared with one diet containing 20% raw grass pea seeds and two diets containing 20 and 30% treated grass pea seeds, respectively (as fed basis). Grass pea seeds contained 265 and 271 g kg−1 crude protein (as fed basis) in the first and second experiment, respectively, and had an amino acid profile similar to peas (Pisum sativum), including relatively low contents of methionine and cysteine. Hydrothermally treated grass pea seeds were found to be a valuable protein source that was well accepted by piglets. At an inclusion rate of 20–30% in diets, feed intake and daily weight gain of piglets was very similar to that of the control treatment. However, including 20% raw grass pea seeds had a significant negative effect on feed intake in experiment 1 and on daily weight gain in experiment 2. Therefore, hydrothermal treatment of grass pea seeds is recommended prior to feeding to piglets. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015


Baldinger L.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Baldinger L.,Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research | Hagmuller W.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | Minihuber U.,Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity | And 2 more authors.
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems | Year: 2016

Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) is a tanniniferous legume that has been used as non-bloating forage for horses and ruminants for centuries, but so far its protein-rich seeds have not been utilized as a feedstuff for monogastric animals. In Europe, the main protein sources in diets for organic pigs are the grain legumes faba beans (Vicia faba) and peas (Pisum sativum), alongside the expensive high-quality components soybean cake, skimmed milk powder and potato protein. Because of the scarce supply of organic soybean cake and the highly variable yield of peas, alternative and locally produced protein sources are of great interest. As part of the EU Core Organic II research project ICOPP (improved contribution of local feed to support 100% organic feed supply to pigs and poultry), sainfoin seeds have been tested as a protein source for organic weaned piglets. In a feeding trial, a control diet, one diet containing 10% sainfoin seeds with hulls and two diets with 10 and 16% dehulled seeds, respectively (as fed basis) were fed to 137 piglets (crosses of [Pietrain x Duroc] x [Landrace x Large White]) during the 4-week post-weaning phase. The protein-rich components of the control diet were peas and soybean cake, which were partly substituted for sainfoin seeds in the experimental diets. Sainfoin seeds were found to contain 279 g kg-1 crude protein (388 g kg-1 when dehulled, as fed basis) with an amino acid profile suitable for pig feeding. Neither feed intake and body weight gain nor feed conversion ratio differed between treatments. It is concluded that sainfoin seeds can be a valuable protein source in moderate percentages of 10-16% in organic diets for weaned piglets. Where sainfoin can be cultivated easily and the seeds are harvested, using them as feed for piglets can therefore be recommended. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014.

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