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Title: Survey Data on European Organic Multi-Species Livestock Farms
Authors: Ulukan, Defne
Steinmetz, Lucille
Moerman, Marie
Bernes, Gun
Blanc, Mathilde
Brock, Christopher
Destruel, Marie
Dumont, Bertrand
Lang, Elise
Meischner, Tabea
Moraine, Marc
Oehen, Bernadette
Parsons, David
Primi, Riccardo 
Ronchi, Bruno 
Schanz, Lisa
Vanwindekens, Frédéric
Veysset, Patrick
Winckler, Christoph
Martin, Guillaume
Benoit, Marc
Issue Date: 2021
The livestock sector is being highly criticized. First, this sector uses 2 billion hectares of pastures and
about 700 million hectares of the arable land used for cropping, which is approximately half of the
global agricultural area (Mottet et al., 2017). Livestock also consumes one third of the worldwide
cereal production (Mottet et al., 2017). Using these cereals for meat, milk, and egg production
is less efficient than their direct consumption by humans, which signifies strong competition
between animal feed and human food availability (Ertl et al., 2015; Muscat et al., 2020). Second, the
dominant model of industrial livestock production has well-established direct and indirect impacts
on deforestation, climate change, water pollution, soil acidification, and biodiversity (Herrero et al.,
2015; Leip, 2015). There is therefore increasing pressure from governments and citizens to step
away from this currently dominant model and make more efficient and sustainable use of natural
resources (Bai et al., 2018; Bowles et al., 2019).
Agroecology is increasingly promoted as a solution to the multiple sustainability issues of world
agriculture (Tomich et al., 2011; Holt-Giménez and Altieri, 2013) including in the livestock sector
(Dumont et al., 2013). It entails moving toward more diversified farming systems (Kremen et al.,
2012), i.e., livestock farming systems includingmultiple breeds of a given livestock species,multiple
animal species and even a diversity of crops and pastures. These diversified systems are expected
to promote ecosystem services, allowing reductions of input use, to stabilize production levels and
income over time (Di Falco and Chavas, 2009; Dardonville et al., 2020), and to strengthen farm
resilience (Dumont, 2020).While there is increasing evidence of the environmental and economic
benefits of diversified systems in the organic cropping sector (Wachter et al., 2019; Wieme et al.,
2020), this has been much less investigated with organic livestock farming.
Multi-species livestock systems are farms where two or more animal species are raised
simultaneously. Interactions among these two or more species can take multiple forms e.g., cograzing
where species graze pastures simultaneously, sequential grazing where they follow one
another at separate times, by-product (e.g., whey) flows from one species to another. These multispecies
livestock systems have received little attention so far (Martin, 2020). Nevertheless, cograzing
experiments conducted at fine spatial scales (i.e., usually at the level of a field) and over
relatively short time horizons (a few weeks) have revealed promising as co-grazing proved to be
efficient in natural resource use, while reducing a number of environmental impacts and providing
opportunities for animal health management (Sehested et al., 2004; Fraser et al., 2014; Cuchillo-
Hilario et al., 2018). More comprehensive assessments considering the various dimensions of farm sustainability are therefore needed to confirm these
promises and provide management opportunities at the farm
level. Threshold effects may indeed occur when upscaling
experimental outcomes obtained at the field level onto
commercial farms.
Motivated by the aforementioned, a survey was conducted
in seven European countries between October 2018 and July
2019 that recorded data across 128 multi-species livestock farms.
The survey was comprehensive and aimed at gathering data
regarding farm structure (farm area, herd size, total number
of workers, off-farm activity, etc.), land use (crop and pasture
types and areas;management i.e., fertilization, etc.; productivity),
livestock management (types of livestock; management i.e.,
reproduction, diet, housing, health, etc.; productivity), input
management (types of products purchased, amounts, etc.), byproduct
management (types of by-products available, transfers
of by-products among farm enterprises, etc.), sales management
(on-farm processing, types of product sold, direct selling,
etc.), economics (income, satisfaction regarding income) and
work conditions (work organization, satisfaction regarding the
workload, etc.). Qualitative data on strengths and weaknesses,
opportunities and threats perceived by farmers were also
collected. The overall database consists of the raw data (1,574
variables) and 107 indicators calculated using these variables and
reflecting farm structure, management and sustainability of 102
farms. After technical validation, we had to withdraw 26 farms
that displayed inconsistent data.
The raw data and the indicators can be used to investigate
the relations between farm structure, management and various
dimensions of farm sustainability (resource use efficiency,
resource conservation, productivity, human welfare, animal
welfare) on European organic multi-species livestock farms. It
can also serve as a basis to understand the levers and barriers to
the development of organic multi-species livestock farming.
ISSN: 2571-581X
DOI: 10.3389/fsufs.2021.685778
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
Appears in Collections:A1. Articolo in rivista

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