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Agroecological resources for sustainable livestock farming in the humid tropics

Abstract : Agroecological farming practices require a change in the evaluation and management of plant and animal resources. The goal is to increase the feed self-sufficiency of farms to reduce the negative environmental footprint linked to imported feed. There is a very large diversity of potentially valuable biomass for livestock. The profile of available feeds depends on the characteristics of farms, that is livestock farm versus mixed crop-livestock farm. Whatever the degree of farm specialisation, plant resources should be adapted to soil and climatic conditions in order to reduce inputs such as water, fertilisers and pesticides. Dual crops, that is food and feed, are strategic resources. In mixed farming systems, co-products from these dual crops should be valued as a first step before the incorporation of specialised feeds in the livestock diet. The choice of feeds, as well as the cultures, must be reasoned upon several criteria: multi-functionality, feed value, and environmental impact. A major principle of agro-ecology is the use of animal species and genotypes adapted to their environmental conditions rather than adapting breeding conditions regarding livestock susceptibility. This contributes to the survival of animals and their welfare, their overall productivity, and the reduction of inputs. The choice of animal species should be conditioned by the characteristics of the biomass available on the farm and the greater or lesser efficiency of the species regarding this biomass. A compromise between productivity and adaptation capacity is then required. Within a species, the choice of genotype will depend on its adaptation to the different potential stresses of the humid tropical environment, such as temperature, humidity, diseases and feed quality. In an agroecological approach, qualities required of the right animal include: acceptability to farmers; adaptation to environments including climatic, nutritional and management; resistance to the common diseases of the area; and good reproductive and growth performances.
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Harry Archimède, Gisèle G. Alexandre, Maurice Mahieu, Jérôme Fleury, Dalila Pétro, et al.. Agroecological resources for sustainable livestock farming in the humid tropics. Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 14 : Agroecology and Global Change, 14, Springer International Publishing, 511 p., 2014, Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, 978-3-319-06015-6. ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-06016-3_9⟩. ⟨hal-02798064⟩



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