Mixed systems based on feed from farm

Mixed farming systems with feed from farm are defined as systems where feed, crop residues and/ or litter is produced on the farm for own livestock.

Only occasionally livestock may be grazed outside the farm or feed is imported from neighbouring farms and / or communal areas. Pastures are managed or feed is cultivated on the farm with the purpose to feed own livestock. Crop residues can be used as source of fodder and / or litter. In return manure is used to serve crop cultivation.

External and local concentrates are supplied only occasionally in small amounts, if at all. If concentrate feeds are part of the daily ration of productive animals then the system has become a mixed system external feed and one should proceed from there.

The system is mainly found in less densely populated areas with a potential for crop cultivation in semi-arid, sub humid tropics and mountain regions. Farm sizes are medium to large scale. Many of the larger scale farms date back from colonial times.

In general crop production is more intensive and livestock is a secondary activity. Marginal fields for crop cultivation serve as pasture or improved pasture and / or fodder or feed crops are cultivated in rotation with other crops. Cover vegetation in tree plantations (estates) or multi purpose vegetation on field boarders (smaller farms) can be the major or one of the principle feed resource.

Production is still extensive, the role of livestock is multipurpose and the numbers, species and type of animals varies according to what is seen as optimal for the overall production of the farm or enterprise. Even at low levels of production (reproduction, daily growth rate and / or milk production) livestock can still play an important role in the conversion of resources that anyhow become available and / or should be removed or trimmed. Manure can be important for the production and the establishment of seedlings.

The principal environmental impacts are on the composition of the vegetation and the internal transfer of plant nutrients. In general manure is well utilised at small-scale farms, however losses due to poor management can still be significant. Pastures, fodder grass, shrubs and trees not only provide feed for livestock but can also protect soil against erosion, improve soil structure, provide shade and fuel wood. At larger scale farms with a crop orientation available feed resources and manure are often not yet fully exploited.

The system has a good potential to produce more animal products for the market. Major constraints are marketing infrastructure for livestock inputs, supporting services and outputs. The layout and the management of large estates are often biased by a crop orientation.

[Livestock & Environment Toolbox Home]