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Nauta, W.J. 2009. Selective Breeding in Organic Dairy Production. PhD Dissertation Wageningen University. 160 p.

Number of pages: 160

ISBN/ISSN: 978-90-8585-360-2

Type of document: Thesis

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More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
Wytze J. Nauta Ph.D.


Language of document: English

Title in English: Selective Breeding in Organic Dairy Production

Abstract / summary in English:

Organic dairy farming started to take off in the early 1990s, when the European Union laid down organic standards for animal production. Until now, however, only incidental steps have been taken towards organic breeding and organic farmers mainly use breeding stock from conventional breeding programmes. This thesis focuses on the possibilities for breeding in organic dairy farming.
This thesis starts with describing the basic backgrounds of organic dairy farming and the results of a study that was carried out in 1999-2000 on the vision on cattle breeding. The main conclusions are that breeding in organic dairy farming should be in line with the intensions of organic farming and that farmers need animals that fit to their extensive farming system.
This study is followed by describing the differences and the magnitude of genotype by environment interaction (G x E) between conventional and organic dairy production. There proved to be significant differences in levels of milk production, percentage of protein in the milk, milk cell count and fertility between Holstein heifers on organic or conventional farms. A fairly large impact of G x E was found indicating that organic dairy farmers might have difficulty with selecting the right animals from the conventional supply of breeding bulls. This effect may be caused by the lower uptake of energy by cows in organic agriculture.
After this a study into organic dairy farmers’ breeding aims in relation to their farm management was carried out in 2005. This study shows that, despite differences in farm management, organic farmers had more or less the same breeding aim and many farmers were already experimenting with breeds and crosses in a quest for the most suitable type of cow for their farm. There was, however, no relationship between the farm management system and the breed or cross used, which indicates that although farmers demand suitable animals, they do not know what type of cow this would be.
Based on the results of the different studies, three distinct options are formulated for breeding in organic dairy farming: (1) use of adapted conventional breeding, (2) a separate breeding programme and (3) a breeding system based on natural mating. The advantages and disadvantages of each of the three breeding options are described in relation to naturalness, technical breeding issues, societal concerns and costs and benefits. These illustrate the complexity of the breeding issue in both breeding-technology and social terms. Restricting the use of conventional breeding would effectively mean the rejection of a system with a long and successful history, and throw organic dairy breeding back on its own resources. It is concluded that ‘system innovations’ at multiple levels are needed to create new, sustainable breeding systems, stakeholders must join forces to stimulate the development towards appropriate breeding.


 

Second language of document: Dutch
Status Dutch: Document contains summary

Titel in Nederlands: Fokkerij in de Biologische Melkveehouderij

Abstract / samenvatting in Nederlands:

Biologische landbouw ontwikkelt nog steeds richting haar doelen. Fokkerij verdient in deze ontwikkeling meer aandacht. Tot nu toe zijn alleen nog maar een aantal kleine incidentele stappen gezet richting biologische fokkerij.
De meeste van de huidige biologische melkveehouders (80%) zijn eind jaren ’90 omgeschakeld naar biologische productie. De meeste van deze veehouders bleven koeien melken van het Holstein Friesian ras en maakten met deze koeien een duidelijke daling in melkproductie mee. De koeien kregen tevens problemen met de vruchtbaarheid en gezondheid en hierdoor rezen vragen over wat gegeven de van de gangbare landbouw afwijkende bedrijfsvoering, een geschikt koetype zou zijn voor de biologische landbouw.
Tegelijk rezen ook vragen over moderne voortplantingstechnieken die worden gebruikt in de gangbare fokprogramma’s en via het inzetten van de KI-fokstieren uit deze fokprogramma’s ook direct en indirect in de biologische landbouw worden gebruikt. De regelgeving voor biologische productie is voor de fokkerij beperkt en vaag. KI wordt toegestaan maar embryotransplantatie niet. Echter, door het gebruik van stieren die uit ET komen gebruikt de biologische landbouw deze techniek indirect. Het onnatuurlijke karakter van zulke technieken strookt niet met de uitgangspunten van de biologische landbouw. Verder kunnen deze technieken ook bijdragen aan het verlies van genetische variatie. Dit laatste past ook niet bij het streven naar biodiversiteit in de biologische landbouw. Het vraagstuk omtrent het koetype dat past bij de biologische melkveehouderij en het gebruik van de moderne voortplantingstechnieken vormden de basis voor dit proefschrift.