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Integrating foraging attributes of domestic livestock breeds into sustainable systems for grassland biodiversity and wider countryside benefits

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Breeding biodiversity in Europe's grasslands

The maintenance and enhancement of biodiverse grasslands is highly dependant on the grazing management practices used. The use of different breeds or stocking rates for management of biodiverse grasslands has direct effects on botanical, structural and invertebrate biodiversity as well as socio-economic costs and benefits.

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Livestock grazing affects grassland biodiversity and thus botanical and faunal diversity. In order to preserve and protect biodiversity in Europe's grasslands, it is necessary to identify the impact of livestock parameters on this important ecosystem. In the framework of the FORBIOBEN project, the breed differences in grazing behaviour and impact on biodiversity have been investigated. This is one of the few such breed comparisons that have been made and has led to significant results which indicate that good individual animal performance can be obtained at moderate or lenient stocking rates. However, this performance suffers at lower stocking rates. In addition, the differences between the breeds of animal studied were small. These findings are being published in relevant scientific journals. It is expected that the results will assist policy makers in the design of appropriate schemes and allocation of subsides with respect to the agronomic outcomes. Partners are now sought to disseminate the result to a wide audience of farmers, conservation practitioners and policy makers. Moreover, further research or development in scaling these results up to a landscape context is now invited.

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