Laufzeit März 2015 bis Mai 2017
A sweet treat for cows – evaluating a healthy and sustainable feeding strategy
The primary goal of the present project is to develop and evaluate a feeding strategy for dairy cattle, that uses industrial byproducts of the sugar industry, so called beet pulp, rather than grain, suitable for human nutrition, as energy source. Such a feeding strategy it thought not only to be ecologically advantageous, but also to bear positive effects on animal health.
During the first summer of this project, an in vitro trial will be conducted, using the rumen simulation technique RUSITEC for the evaluation of different inclusion levels of beet pulp. We hypothesize, that an optimal level of beet pulp in the ration will promote optimal rumen fermentation without the extensive use of concentrates rich in grain. We aim to evaluate the best inclusion level of beet pulp for the use in dairy cattle diets poor in grain in vitro.
During the summer of the second year of this project, a feeding trial will be conducted, testing the substitution of grain in dairy diets by beet pulp and it’s effects on feed intake, milk yield, nutrient digestibility, as well as the rumen ecosystem and it’s microbiota in vivo. We hypothesize, that high amounts of grain in dairy rations can be substituted by an optimal inclusion level of beet pulp, resulting in positive effects on rumen ecology and health, without bearing disadvantages for cow performance.
Besides the scientific aims of the current project, we also aim to teach the participating pupils to understand the practical application of natural science. Furthermore, we want to arouse their interest for agricultural and veterinarian problems and show them the close relation between food- and feed quality, health and animal welfare, as well as the connection to ecological aspects.
Two strategies will be applied to achieve these goals. Firstly, we will offer some workshops and excursions open to all interested pupils, involving the school classes of 7th to 9th grade of both schools. A “ruminant nutrition workshop” will be offered in autumn 2015 at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and an “agricultural workshop” will be held at the teaching farm of the university in autumn 2016. Furthermore, an excursion to a sugar production plant is scheduled for autumn or winter 2015, being closely connected to the teaching content at HBLVA Rosensteingasse. Secondly, a close collaboration between scientists and pupils will take place during both project summers, when pupils are involved in the practical work during the trials. Selected pupils will be able to do their practical training in the course of the in vivo- or in vitro trials. Therefore, the trials will be conducted in summer, to enable the pupils to fully participate in the scientific work during their summer holidays.