The Sustainability Initiative has been developed in Belgium and is applied to beef cattle farmers. The Sustainability Initiative is composed of 10 fields of sustainability:
1. animal health
2. animal welfare
3. energy use
6. animal feeding
7. soil conservation
8. water use
9. social sustainability
For each of these fields of sustainability the tool has developed a checklist with specific questions to the beef cattle farmers. This checklist is composed of a point system, which allows the farmer to calculate the total sustainability of the farm. A few examples of the questions in the checklist are:
- Do you have a system of bookkeeping(economic and techical) on the farm?
- Do you have a weighing installation on the farm?
- Do you know the daily growth of the bulls and is this more or less than 750 gram per day?
The average daily growth of bulls is calculated at the moment of slaughtering. Also the weight of the cows is known at the moment of slaughtering. In Belgian Bleus the longevity of the cows is not important, but it is important to know when the value of the cow is at is maximum. You can calculate also the daily gain of the cow during her life.
The most important aspect of this initiative is that beef catte farmers can benchmark their figures with their colleagues in order to improve their sustainability.
The farmer send its yearly figures to a consultant of Boerenbond.The main opportunity is to know your position within the group of beef catle farmers the farmer is belonging to. A bottleneck is to motivate beef cattle farmers to send their figures.In order to increase motivation. A contest is organised with a little gift for the participants.
Three lessons can be learned from this practice:
1. beef catle farmers do not use all the figures that are available.
2. motivating beef farmers to send their figures to an office is not easy.
3. to give a gift for the farmers with the best results has functioned well to stimulate the farmers to participate
For more information about this initiative please consult
Author: Dirk Audenaert - Boerenbond