LowInput Breeds is a 5-year EU Collaborative Project, funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities. The aim of the project is the development of integrated livestock breeding and management strategies to improve animal health, product quality and performance in European organic and ‘low input’ milk, meat and egg production. See the research project website www.lowinputbreeds.org
The last 50 years has seen tremendous development in selective breeding of our farm livestock; growth rates or milk and egg yields of today’s animals can be double that of their ancestors from the middle of the 20th century. Unfortunately the absence of high power inputs, such as feeding, does not always curb outputs from these very productive animals but it usually result in health and welfare problems. These high power breeds are often quite unsuited to organic or low input production systems which, unfortunately, tend to be low priority as far as the breeding companies are concerned. Low-input producers tend to either use ‘traditional’ breeds with little progress in selective breeding or attempt to minimise the consequences of these modern animals; neither of which is ideal.
The LowInputBreeds project addresses this gap and is hoping to identify and in some cases create robust breeds and cross bred animals able to remain healthy with low intensity inputs.