About this Research Topic
Grazing is the natural feeding behavior of ruminants since before domestication. Ruminants herds grazing activity shaped hearth landscape of large area spread all over the world (i.e. the Pampas, the Tundra, the Alps, the Maquis, the Matorral, etc.) making such environments something of unique. Grazing management and behavior has been thus the key factor in specific landscape and pasture biodiversity determinism. Furthermore, grazing behavior and selection are known to be responsible for specific characteristics, features and quality of animal products (milk, cheese, meat). This is the case of the specification of several PDO cheeses that point out the use of semi-natural biodiversified pasture to give specificity to the milk and cheese. Similarly, meat produced on biodiverse pastures is often a value-added product. Grazing selection and management can also have positive consequences on ruminant nutrition and ecosystem services in general.
Recent changes in management strategies for pasture farming systems were observed, due to adaptation to economic, climatic and social changes. Such changes requires adaptation in pasture management and cultivation (forage species, cultivars) and in grazing management. A change in grazing management has an impact on the grazing behavior of ruminants that may result in an offered herbage of different nutritive value and botanical composition, which can have consequences on animal nutrition, product quality and ecosystem services. Changes in grazing management and behavior affect the social interaction of grazing animals, as well. The use of specific breed or genotypes adapted to a more or less rush grazing environment can also be a strategic tool to target grazing behavior and to adapt grass-based farming systems to the current or future evolution, especially to increase farming system sustainability in a climatic change perspective. Thus, the study of grazing behavior under different territorial context and climatic condition is a key point to better address end manage the grass-based farming system to reach specific or multiple goals, such as a targeted product quality, biodiversity level, landscape structure, and to improve ecosystem services and animal welfare.
The aim of this article collection is to cover promising, recent, and novel research trends on ruminant (cattle, small ruminants, etc.) grazing behavior, with specific link with direct or potential effect on derived animal products (meat, dairy, and fibers), and ecosystem services in differentiated environmental conditions (tropical, continental, Mediterranean, mountain, etc.)
Areas to be covered in this article collection may include, but are not limited to the role of grazing behavior and management to increase farming system sustainability on:
- Ruminant nutrition
- Ruminant product quality and composition (including microbiology)
- Ruminant health and welfare
- Biodiversity and landscape conservation
- Environmental impacts and ecosystem services
- Genetic selection, native breed and adapted genotypes (resilience and robustness)
- Social role and to prevent depopulation in less favored areas
We would like to acknowledge Dr. Thais Devincenzi, Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA), has acted as coordinator and have contributed to the preparation of the proposal for this Research Topic.
Keywords: ruminants, grazing behaviour, product quality, ecosystem services, animal welfare
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.