Ruminants

Our research promotes efficiency and health and thus the welfare of both large and small ruminants by means of good nutrition, management and health prophylaxis.

Food production is only successful if it involves healthy animals. This calls for species-specific husbandry systems, performance-based and ruminant-appropriate nutrition, and livestock health maintenance. Our research questions address nutrition, management and health prophylaxis for both large and small ruminants.

Services

We are working on the following research questions:

  • Livestock nutrition and feedstuffs
  • Livestock management (improvement of management systems)
  • Ruminant metabolism
  • Fertility 
  • Udder health

Expertise

Feeding

Feedstuffs and additives, feeding strategies, feed efficiency, feed conversion, feeding behaviour, milk production and milk quality

Livestock management

Housing systems and facilities, housing hygiene and housing climate, pasturing, cow handling, milking technology

Livestock health and reproduction

Metabolic disorders, mastitis, heat detection
 

Projects

The aim of this project on behalf of the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO/BLV) is to reduce antibiotics use in veal production. Our approach is to improve the climate in calf housing and thus also calf health. In this context, an important indicator is the ammonia concentration at the animals’ nose level. The harmful gas causes irritation to the calves’ sensitive mucous membranes, thus opening ideal routes of entry for infectious agents. Results of preliminary studies have shown, for example, that concentrations vary significantly within a given space and that both ventilation and bedding management in the calf lying area impact on ammonia concentrations. The project will provide additional insights and define solutions for improved ventilation control in calf housing.

We studied and compared three grassland-based production systems on the farm estate of the BBZ agricultural college (Berufsbildungszentrums Natur und Ernährung) in Hohenrain, Switzerland and on 36 pilot farms in the Swiss Plateau region, considering cattle management, forage production and preservation, labour and farm business management, and ecology/sustainability. Based on the results of the comparison, the primary objective was to test practicable ways to optimise production systems utilising  fresh grassland forage and to develop practical recommendations for farmers.