Grassland and Animal Feed Production Forum

The focus of the Grassland Forum is on maintaining and strengthening sustainable grassland use. Grazing can combine both resource-, climate- and environment-friendly grassland management and add value through the production of food such as milk and meat in rural regions.

HNEE research and study projects looked at issues related to the economic efficiency of the processes in the state of Brandenburg and the neighbouring regions. Between 2011 and 2013, a series of events and activities took place in close cooperation with company managers and decision-makers from consulting, administration, organisations and associations. In close cooperation with the Thünen Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, model calculations for economic efficiency are regularly updated as part of the agri benchmark project. They show how cow and sheep farms in the north-east of Germany compare internationally.


From afar ….

Rheinland-Pfalz Eifel Klostergut Maria Laach Limousin-Bulle und Rind auf der Weide, Bild-Sequenz (2v4) August 2002 Ökologischer Landbau ,Rinder

… up close.

Horned cows in pens? (Not) a problem? Findings of a research projects

An article by Stephanie Hügle on ackerdemiker.in

In the research project “Horned cows in pens” (in German), the project partners University of Kassel, Bioland e.V. and Demeter e.V. investigated the interrelationships and success factors of successfully raising horned cattle over the last three years. The results and findings of the surveys and studies at 39 farms will now be presented nationwide at 8 public conferences.

On 18 October, the lecture series “Veranstaltungsreihe „Horntragende Milchkühe im Laufstall – so geht´s!” (Keeping horned dairy cows in pens – how to make it a success) stopped off at the HNEE. In the auditorium on the city campus Prof. Dr. Inga Schleip, Dr. Henrike Rieken and Stephanie Hügel greeted interested students, practitioners and consultants in the morning at half past nine on a day dedicated entirely to horns. These fascinating organs are increasingly disappearing in dairy cows, either because the horns are removed from young animals or genetically hornless cows are bred.

After being welcomed by event organisers Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hörning began to discuss the issue by introducing the legal aspects of horns and dehorning from the point of view of organic farming and animal welfare. He explained the pros and cons of dehorning and described the different dehorning methods. The participants then took a look back at the die history of horned cattle. together with Ulrich Mück, Demeter consultant and coordinator of the research project. The interesting journey into the past showed the evolution of horn-bearing cattle from revered and respected farm animals to seemingly horned “beasts”.

How did they come to be seen as “beasts”? According to Ulrich Mück, it was the result of trying to adapt the cows to the husbandry systems, in other words, keeping horned cows in stalls that are too small. The central role of herd leadership was also highlighted: the queens of the herd, their needs and the important role they play in maintaining a calm herd.
After a coffee break and initial opportunities for participants to share ideas, Mr. Mück presented the findings of the three-year research project. The sometimes-astonishing findings provided material for a lively discussion. Then two practitioners had a chance to have their say: Hans Möller (Bioland farm) and Peter Krentz (Demeter farm) have opted for horned dairy cows, one in Schleswig-Holstein, Lentföhrden, the other in Brandenburg, Brodowin. One after the other, they reported on their motives and good and bad experiences with their horned dairy herds.

After all the informative theory, the warm lunch was just as welcome as the change of scene to the stable in Brodowin afterwards to experience the dairy herd described by Peter Krentz first-hand in action. To demonstrate the hierarchy and the associated behaviour among the animals, the cows were faced with an unusual challenge: only half of the feed stations were filled with feed. Which cows would be most likely to come out on top and, more importantly, by what means?

The onlookers watched the cows with excitement, but Ulrich Mück was almost disappointed as he praised the good social behaviour and the measured reaction of the cows to the scarce resources. The black Holstein-Friesian (HF) from Peter Krentz made a tiptop impression in spite of their reputation (according to Uli Mück the HF in Bavaria are generally thought of as devious). Walking through the resting area, milking parlour and pre-milking area, Mr. Krentz concluded by talking about the main difficulties and success stories of his dairy farm.

The event ended in the farm café of the Brodowin eco-village with stimulating, yet short, conversations before everyone had to head off again to their own cows, to the farm or railway station; everyone took with them new contacts, impressions and suggestions related to “Horns: yes, but how?”.

Interested in more information about or activities of the Grassland Forum?

Please contact Prof. Dr. Inga Schleip (Professor of Sustainable Grassland Use Systems and Grassland Ecology)

The Grassland and Animal Feed Production Forum emerged from the following ESF project: Ökonomische Bewertung von Entwicklungsstrategien ökologischer und konventioneller Betriebe, (Economic evaluation of development strategies of organic and conventional farms), 3L – Lifelong learning at organic farms, timeframe: 01/11-12/13. Events in the project “Lifelong Learning – 3L” and documents related to grassland can be downloaded here

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