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Differences In Preferences For Breeding Traits Between Organic And Conventional Dairy Producers In Sweden

Therese Ahlman, Morris Ljung, Lotta Rydhmer, Helena Röcklinsberg, Erling Strandberg, A. Wallenbeck
Published 2014 · Biology
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Abstract Development of sustainable breeding goals for dairy production has to consider the producers' preferences which are likely to differ between production systems. The number of dairy producers with herds certified according to the standards of organic production has increased during the last decades. Traditionally, organic producers use animals selected in conventional production systems but the traits important in organic herds have been suggested to differ due to the different production conditions. The aim of this study was to assess what traits Swedish organic and conventional dairy producers consider to be important for the cows in their herds, and the relative importance of traits in the two production systems. An advanced web questionnaire with an underlying selection index was developed. The selection index was not shown to the respondents but it enabled them to weight traits against each other based on the genetic progress obtained. The questionnaire also included questions about what traits the producers intuitively considered important for the cows in their herds and how they ranked 15 given production and functional traits. The questionnaire was answered by 468 Swedish dairy producers of which 122 had a certified organic herd and 346 had a conventional herd. The results of this study show that the trait longevity was ranked first by both organic and conventional Swedish dairy producers. However, the ranking differed to some extent between the production systems for other traits, e.g. mastitis resistance and milk production. Swedish producers with organic herds tended to desire a higher genetic gain in disease resistance, including mastitis and parasite resistance, compared with producers with conventional herds. The results also reflect a somewhat lower interest in milk production level among producers with organic production. However, as the traits most important for Swedish producers with organic herds are already considered in the current Nordic breeding goal they can continue the use of this animal material.
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