Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock – especially from ruminant and milk production – have become an important issue in environmental impact assessment and policy making. The quantification of GHG emissions and the reduction of emissions per produced unit are the main topics. Grassland and pasture-based beef production systems are assessed as less efficient and less productive compared to production systems using concentrates. A systematic, quantitative comparison of different cattle beef production is missing. The case study analysed and discussed the trade-offs between reduction of GHG emissions, biodiversity impact, water use, animal welfare and farm economy in Swiss beef production systems of different intensities.
The aim is to find out whether there were differences in the sustainability between the single farms and the different production systems and to which extend the GHG emissions, biodiversity, water use, animal welfare and farm economy could be improved under the given circumstances.
Conflicts of goals and synergies between climate protection and animal welfare were pointed out. Relevant measures were discussed with regard to their implementation in agricultural practices, extension services and propagation.