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ETABLE  expérimentale des Verrines,  POITOU-CHARENTES. © inra, Jean-Claude Emile

Experimental facilities open to the scientific community

Patuchev: an experimental facility for designing and evaluating effective and sustainable goat farming systems

The current economic context in the goat sector is characterized by historically high production costs and unpredictable milk prices. In this context, INRA created the Patuchev experimental facility to design and evaluate effective and sustainable goat farming systems. The aim is to compare the management of three herds with two different periods of reproduction and either fed hay or grazing.

Updated on 01/30/2018
Published on 04/11/2013

The price of fossil fuels has been continuously rising since the 1970s. The energy performance of farms, which is strongly linked to the method of feeding the goats, is therefore at the heart of environmental, economic and more generally societal challenges with regard to consumer expectations for quality food. To design and evaluate sustainable goat farming systems, the Patuchev experimental facility seeks to reconcile environmental, economic and social performances. This approach reflects INRA's 2010-2020 strategic priorities and the Agro-ecological Project for France initiated by the French Ministry of Agriculture. The aim is the long-term evaluation of three systems each represented by a herd of 60 goats and a 10 hectare forage area: a grazing herd with a seasonal reproduction period (birth in February), and two herds with an off-seasonal reproduction period (birth in October): one grazing, the other reared in a goat house and fed hay.

TECHNICAL CHOICES TO MEET ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES

Limit energy consumption

Technical choices have been made to address this issue: meadows combining several plant species and drying hay in a barn using a solar collector to maximise ingestion and limit the use of concentrated feed. Among the different plant families from these meadows, legumes, which are capable of capturing the nitrogen present in the air, will help limit the addition of nitrogen fertilizer of which the manufacturing uses a lot of energy. Finally, as the fields are close together, the journeys during harvest are reduced, and drying the hay by ventilation uses less fossil fuel than other modes of conservation. An overall assessment of the energy and greenhouse gas emissions will be established for each of the three herds compared.

Use less synthetic products

Thanks to alternative methods, pesticides and veterinary drugs are used rationally. Long-term crop rotations as well as the use of anthelmintic plants and targeted treatments will help address this issue. Artificial lighting associated with a "Billy-goat effect" for synchronisation will be used to aid breeding.

Promote biodiversity

The crops, hedges and meadows planted within the framework of the Patuchev project will diversify the landscape and promote plant and animal biodiversity. The meadows will store carbon and thus limit the greenhouse effect. The recovery of rain water and the treatment of sewage with reed bed filters will preserve the water resources. The experimental facility will evaluate the plant and animal diversity, the biological activity of the soil and the quality of the water.

EVALUATE THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHOICES

The environmental challenges are a priority but are dependent on viability: each of the three systems must be effective, offer the farmer an attractive income and profession as well as quality products in conjunction with an acceptable activity. Zootechnical (dairy production, reproduction, weight, body condition score, animal health and welfare), agronomical (meadow and crop production, sewage, flows and elementary assessments, techniques) and economic (useful matter produced per hectare, gross margin) criteria will be taken into account.

PARTICIPATORY COORDINATION

Since the creation of Patuchev, professional partners in the goat sector and the Poitou-Charentes region have played an active role in discussions. The facility is located on the Verrines site and is part of the Forage, environment, ruminants experimental unit in Lusignan (Ferlus). The Patuchev strategic committee groups researchers from Inra, stakeholders in development, professionals in the goat sector – including the director of Redcap - and the Poitou-Charentes region, thus providing a dual perspective, that of the scientific world and that of the goat sector. The committee indicates the scientific orientations, and ensures the coherence of the choices made as well as the diffusion of the results. Patuchev is a partner of the Goat network of excellence (Rexcap) and within this framework, is in perfect synergy and symbiosis with the Goat experimentation and development network (Redcap) of which the mission is to develop feed self-sufficiency and promote cultivated meadows in feed systems on goat farms in the region.

The knowledge generated will contribute to producing new flexible and adaptable solutions and to developing systemic approaches to designing innovative, high-performance, sustainable goat farms.

Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Animal Physiology and Livestock Systems