Redesigning livestock strategies to reduce stocking rates and improve incomes on western China's grasslands

David Michalk, David Kemp, Guodong Han, Limin Hua, Zhibiao Nan, Taro Takahashi, Jianping Wu, Zhu Xu

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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The results and implications of the study of grassland livestock systems in four counties in western China are considered from the perspective of general outcomes that would apply across the region. Two key questions were evaluated using farm system models: (1) can changing the current livestock production system to an alternative enterprise, or (2) can changing key management practices in current enterprises, increase household profit at the same stocking rate (SR) or maintain profit at a lower SR? The model analyses indicated that changes in the livestock enterprise (mutton, wool or cashmere) and/or simple changes to the production system (e.g. culling unproductive stock, changing lambing time, weaning earlier, developing better supplementary feeding regimes and grazing management, overwintering stock in warm sheds) should initially lift net farm incomes by 15'40% (depending on the location) at current stocking rates, or should allow 20'40% reductions in stocking rates while holding net farm incomes at present levels. At three of four study sites, a reduction in stocking rates with the existing enterprise would improve net income from livestock. At the fourth site the same net income can be achieved at lower stocking rates but requires changing the enterprise from mutton to wool production. Lambing times could be moved from winter closer to summer, to better align feed demand with grassland forage supply. Pen feeding in warm sheds improves animal performance and net incomes. Better ration formulations can improve the efficiencies of animal production. Simple grazing rotations, grazing bans in early summer and restricting grazing to April'November all had no or positive effects on net income from livestock, supporting the view that improving the efficiencies of livestock production does provide opportunities to improve grassland condition. Sale of unproductive animals to reduce stocking rates provides finance that can be used to better feed theremaining animals and make other farm improvements.
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)
Number of pages12
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


ConferenceXXI International Grassland Congress and VIII International Rangeland Congress


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