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Comparing productivity and feed-use efficiency between organic and conventional livestock animals

Abstract : Livestock animals play a key role in organic farming systems by providing nutrients for croplands through manure production and nutrient-dense food for human consumption. However, we lack global, synthetic view about livestock productivity in organic farming and about its differences with conventional farming. Here we fill this important gap of knowledge by providing a first global comparison highlighting differences between organic and conventional farming on animal productivity, feeding strategy and feed use efficiency in dairy cattle, pigs and poultry (both layers and broilers). We found (a) a 12% lower animal productivity under organic treatment, (b) significant differences in feeding strategy, especially for organic dairy cattle fed with a lower proportion of concentrate and food-competing feed than in conventional systems, (c) an overall 14% lower feed-use efficiency under organic treatment (-11% and -47% for organic dairy cattle and poultry broilers, respectively) compensated by (d) a 46% lower human-food vs animal-feed competition in organic dairy cattle. These results provide critical information on the sustainability of organic livestock management. They are also key for modelling global organic farming expansion while avoiding overestimation of organic farming production in upscaling scenarios.
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Contributor : Sabine Rossi <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 25, 2021 - 10:23:23 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - 10:29:23 AM


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Ulysse Gaudaré, Sylvain Pellerin, Marc Benoit, Guillaume Durand, Bertrand Dumont, et al.. Comparing productivity and feed-use efficiency between organic and conventional livestock animals. Environmental Research Letters, IOP Publishing, 2021, 16 (2), pp.1-13. ⟨10.1088/1748-9326/abd65e⟩. ⟨hal-03119814⟩



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