Organic and low-input dairy farming can be more sustainable than conventional practices, but technical and financial constraints can limit uptake of these farms. This type of farming would benefit from strategies to improve production and animal health while reducing production costs and improving overall efficiency. The EU-funded SOLID (Sustainable organic and low-input dairying (SOLID)) initiative worked to make low-input dairy farming competitive in the European market. The research team focused on strategies to improve feeding and identifying animal breeds adapted to these types of systems. SOLID aimed to help farmers identify their needs and study organic and low-input supply chains to evaluate new strategies. Researchers identified common priorities for different groups of farmers through public meetings. The researchers investigated favourable genetic traits across various organic and low-input farms. They monitored flocks of dairy goats and herds of dairy cows to measure whether breeds adapted for low-input farming show useful genetic variations. SOLID found no significant differences between genotypes in terms of energy used for metabolism, breeding and lactation. Project work also focused on developing and using sustainable, high-quality feed resources to make forage-dominated diets more efficient. The researchers also created a decision-support tool to help farmers choose the most sustainable approach to feeding. Finally, they studied the impact of SOLID innovative practices on the economic performance of dairy farms across Europe. Environmentally friendly dairy farming is a growing field that will benefit from a coordinated approach to improving productivity. SOLID has helped to provide this coordination along with scientific research to help farms become more economically successful whilst at the same time providing benefits to society.
Organic, dairy goat, dairy cow, low-input dairy farming, SOLID