Potential land use of Cantabria for grass-fed milk production

Keywords: dairy cattle, fresh grass, spatial metrics, multiple linear regression, Spain


Aim of study: To analyse the territorial potential of Cantabria to produce grass-fed milk.

Area of study: Cantabria (N Spain) is a territory associated with livestock, in particular cattle and grasslands. Over the last few decades, the livestock sector has been immersed in a process of structural adjustment, leading to a reduction in the number of farms, an increase in their size and the intensification of production. Moreover, the market is being increasingly supplied with milk labelled “grass fed”, due to growing consumer interest in healthier and more environmentally friendly products.

Material and methods: To do this, 99 livestock farms were classified according to the percentage of fresh grass (FG) in the spring diet of the lactating cows (non-grass-fed: <25% FG; grass-fed: ≥25% FG); these were characterized and, subsequently, a multiple linear regression analysis was carried out to estimate the percentage of FG based on 41 territorial variables.

Main results: The predicted feeding model had an accuracy rate of 70.7%, and discriminated better the non-grass-fed, it had some limitations, suggesting that territorial structure is important but not enough to differentiate grass-fed milk. In addition, 33% of the farms studied produce grass-fed milk, but only half do so under territorial conditions typically associated with this type of production. Meanwhile, 12% of the farms, with similar territorial conditions, do not carry out this type of production (grass fed).

Research highlights: To support grass-fed production, other internal, cultural or economic values must be taken into account.


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How to Cite
VÁZQUEZ-GONZÁLEZ, I., RUIZ-ESCUDERO, F., BUSQUÉ, J., & VILLAR, A. (2023). Potential land use of Cantabria for grass-fed milk production. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 21(4), e0608. https://doi.org/10.5424/sjar/2023214-19920
Animal production