Changing livestock and grassland management to improve the sustainability and profitability of Alpine grasslands in Sunan County, Gansu Province

Lian Yang, Jianping Wu, Randall Jones, David Kemp, Zhifeng Ma, Taro Takahashi

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paper

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Abstract

A better alignment of feed supply and demand could be achieved by changing the lambing time from April to June. Most households in Sunan have built warm sheds, but they are not well used. Modelling suggested that herders should pen feed ewes in warm sheds through the cold season, as that would lower maintenance requirements and aid better survival and growth of lambs. These practices are now being tested on five farms and the initial results support the model results. Better feeding through the cold weather increased costs a net income from livestock. Future onfarm work will investigate decreasing animal numbers by improving animal production efficiency using a new precision livestock management model.Grassland degeneration is a serious ecological and social problem in north-western China, and overgrazing is one of the most important reasons for degeneration. Overgrazing issues were assessed by first investigating the feed balance between forage and supplement supply versus animal demand. The effects on the feed balance of alternative management practices were investigated using StageONE and StageTWO models to assess ways of improving animal performance and identify opportunities to rehabilitate grasslands. This study was done for a typical farm in the town of Kangle in Sunan county, north-western Gansu. Analysis of the feed balance showed the metabolisable energy feed supply is typically grossly deficient from October to May because the quantity and energy content of the frosted forage is then very low. The peak of herbage production is in June, the highest maintenance requirement is from March to May and there is an excess of herbage above maintenance in summer grasslands, which enables animals to grow. Grazing in the cold season requires a great deal of energy to maintain body temperatures and for walking, and contributes to the '30% of live-weight loss that occurs through that period. Results were discussed with local herders and technicians, who considered that the modelling accurately reflected the local situation. The amounts of supplements fed through autumn, winter and spring are inadequate to maintain animal condition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopment of sustainable livestock systems on grasslands in north-western China
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of a workshop held at the combined International Grassland Congress and International Rangeland Conference, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, 28 June 2008
EditorsD.R. Kemp, D.L. Michalk
Place of PublicationCanberra ACT
PublisherAustralian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
Pages69-79
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781921615456
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventXXI International Grassland Congress and VIII International Rangeland Congress - Hohhot, China, Hohhot, China
Duration: 28 Jun 200828 Jun 2008

Conference

ConferenceXXI International Grassland Congress and VIII International Rangeland Congress
CountryChina
CityHohhot
Period28/06/0828/06/08

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    Yang, L., Wu, J., Jones, R., Kemp, D., Ma, Z., & Takahashi, T. (2011). Changing livestock and grassland management to improve the sustainability and profitability of Alpine grasslands in Sunan County, Gansu Province. In D. R. Kemp, & D. L. Michalk (Eds.), Development of sustainable livestock systems on grasslands in north-western China: Proceedings of a workshop held at the combined International Grassland Congress and International Rangeland Conference, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, 28 June 2008 (pp. 69-79). Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).