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Sustainable goat production: modelling optimal performance in extensive systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Production Science
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Aug 2019


Strategies for achieving greater ruminant livestock productivity are essential to meet the food demands of growing populations, but sustainable changes are difficult to identify given the inherent complexity of such systems. Here a systems model for ruminant production in an extensive Mediterranean environment is constructed, which allows management factors influencing multiple aspects of the system to be incorporated. The model is parameterised with data collected over three years for goat holdings in northern Morocco. Scenario analysis techniques are applied to explore the strategies that optimise performance under climate and feed price challenge. Results indicate that meat production is particularly important during periods of drought when increased meat yields can counteract the expected significant reduction in milk yields, to protect human food security, prevent excessive rangeland degradation and preserve natural nutritional resources. Feed price shocks during drought can have significant negative impacts on the system and zero feed input is shown to be a more sustainable strategy than reliance on high price feed during drought. Any alternative feed sources need to have a high forage component to reduce grazing periods significantly and promote rangeland preservation. This model allows improved insight to management strategies which could optimise animal husbandry performance in goat subsistence systems.

    Research areas

  • marginal systems, systems model, sustainability, ruminants, livestock



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