The demonstration on grazing monitoring organized by UNIZAR was held in a livestock farmers' fair the 21st of September 2021 in Zaragoza, Spain. The event was attended by 32 participants, including beef farmers, advisors, technicians, researchers and students.
The theme was covered by the veterinarians César Torres and Rodrigo Santa Cruz, from GEPISA (General de Piensos de Soria SA), a renowned company in animal nutrition manufacturing feed concentrates for livestock farming and which develops important R+D+i projects, located in Soria, Spain. The innovation proposed is part of a project named “Pasto 2020-2023” and is referred to the evaluation of quantity and quality of the pasture that cows grazed, in order to provide a complementary animal supplementation.
To evaluate the forage quality consumed, GPS collars in the animals are used to identify which areas are more frequented by them. Within these areas most accessed, exclusion cages are placed to monitor the forage production. The forage is cut and weighed to determine the forage quantity. And through handheld NIR equipment the forage is analyzed in real-time to determine its nutritional value.
In 30-minutes presentation, they covered such issues:
- Project description, pilot farms and management;
- The benefits to the farmer;
- Obstacles to implementation;
- Management recommendations;
- New research lines.
After the presentation, the attendants had the opportunity to ask questions and clear their doubts about the innovation. The presentation was recorded (in Spanish) and is available:
Through monitoring the quantity and quality of forage consumed, the presenters pointed out several beneficial aspects, such as:
- To know the nutritional value and the forage production throughout the seasons of the year;
- Knowing the amount of forage an area produces, allows to adjust stocking rates or improve grazing management, ie by rotational grazing;
- Develop dietary plans using and optimising the available resources;
- Increasing the use of natural grasslands;
- Reducing supplementation costs;
- Facilitate the management of animals over large areas by using GPS collars.
An attendee highlighted the benefit of knowing the forage quality in real-time, which allows to adjust the animals' diet to their needs, and to save resources.
Limitations in implementing grazing monitoring were also discussed:
- Insufficient infrastructure and costs associated with its implementation (the use of traditional and/or electric fencing, GPS collars and antenna).
- Organisation of the herd into categories (age and physiological status).
- Difficulty of access to certain areas within the farm.
- Technical knowledge required for calculate and use the devices.
The monitoring can increase costs through the purchase of devices and increased management due to the need to handle animals in different physiological stages.
A video (in Spanish) was produced with interviews to the veterinarians Rodrigo Santa Cruz and César Torres in the field and to a farmer participating in the project sharing her thoughts about the proposed innovation.
Link to the innovation on BKH: https://hub.bovine-eu.net/search/forage-intake-in-grazing-cattle-by-an-acoustic-monitoring-system
Gepisa Company: https://www.gepisa.com/