SusCatt: Increasing productivity, resource efficiency and product quality to increase the economic competitiveness of forage and grazing based cattle production systems

SusCatt evaluates new diets for bovines for better productivity, more efficient resource use, the reactions and the acceptability of consumers through diets based on the use of a high quantity of forage (not edible for humans) included with products of vegetal origin. The estimations also refer to grazing cattle.

The project

The University of Padua’s MAPS department is one of seven partners in the project. The starting point of SusCatt’s research and analysis is to transform diet. In farms that are involved in the dairy and meat supply chain in particular, new diets are being formulated (quality and quantity are modified). These diets consider breed specificity, breeding systems and economic and environmental sustainability. The issue centres on a comparison between different breeding systems. On one side, it has studied the adoption of a corn- and soy-based conventional diet; on the other, the project is studying the exploitation of fodder resources made by the same breeding companies and the eventual exploitation of grazing.

The main hypothesis that is driving the project is a new diet, and resorting to grazing could:

  • Improve animal health and welfare, along with the quality and the safety of by-products (meat and milk), and as a consequence increase the animals’ resilience and the boost the competitiveness of producers
  • Improve the efficiency of resources that cannot be consumed by humans
  • Promote new breeding practices that are more acceptable to consumers through more efficient production, better animal welfare and giving special consideration to biodiversity

SusCatt is based on a multi-actor approach involving the sharing of research results between the various partners in the project, such as farmers, breeders, technicians, cooperatives and associations/organisations. The effects, forecast and attended, are an improved knowledge of productivity, resilience, competitiveness of European Animal Productions and efficient management of resources to reduce wastefulness and increase environmental sustainability.