The Farmer Handbook is an output of the Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying (SOLID) project, financed by the European Union.
The technical notes, produced by the Organic Research Centre (ORC), cover three thematic areas: feeding of ruminants with forage-based diets and home-grown feeds; animal management for health and welfare; and wider issues of the environment and economics.
For five years (2011 to 2016) agricultural scientists and farming experts from 25 institutions in 10 European countries worked together to develop new knowledge and methods to improve the sustainability of the organic and low-input dairying systems in Europe.
Coordinated at Aberystwyth University
Nine of the project partners were SMEs working with low-input and organic dairy farmers (including co-operatives, advisory services and one organic certification body). The project was coordinated by the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, UK.
SOLID's aim is to provide tools to improve the technical performance of dairy production, to improve economic competitiveness of organic and low-input dairy farms, to maximize the delivery of environmental goods from the sector, and to enhance biodiversity on the farms.
Chapters in the booklet:
- Energy requirements and ration planning for low-input dairy cows
- Feeding home-grown protein and novel feeds to dairy cows
- Use of diverse swards and ‘mob grazing’ for forage production
- Minerals and trace element management for dairy cows
- Vegetable by-products for feeding dairy goats
- Breeding cows suitable for low input and organic dairy systems
- Low-input antibiotic strategies: improving animal health & welfare
- Rearing calves on milking cows: key points to consider
- Carbon footprint and biodiversity assessment in dairy production
- Profit on low-input and organic dairy farms
- Strategies to increase sustainability for the supply chain & consumers
- Agroforestry for livestock systems
The 48-page handbook can be downloaded here, either as a single document, or the chapters can be downloaded individually.