Dairy cattle on Norwegian alpine rangelands – grazing preferences and milk quality

H Sickel, R K Abrahamsen, K Eldegard, T Lunnan, A Norderhaug, M.A. Petersen, M. Sickel, F. Steenhuisen, M. Ohlson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The results from the study ‘Effects of vegetation and grazing preferences on the quality of alpine dairy products’ will be presented. The main objective of the project was to investigate the connections bet - ween alpine rangeland vegetation, landscape use and grazing preferences of free ranging dairy cattle and the milk quality with regard to fatty acid composition and content of various secondary plant metabolites. Two herds in two different geographical summer farming areas were studied during three grazing seasons (2007- 2009). Area use and grazing preferences were studied by using high frequency GPS data in combination with detailed vegetation mapping, field studies of animal behaviour, microhistological analysis of faeces, analyses of rangeland vegetation composition and records of grazed plant species. The results showed that when available, the dairy cattle preferred open areas with a vegetation rich in species, dominated by grass and herb species. Different plant groups influenced the chemical composition of the milk differently. The study concludes that milk from alpine rangelands differ from “normal” summer and winter milk in Norway by having a healthier fatty acid composition and a higher content of various secondary plant metabolites, which may be a potential for development of labelled products. Also, preventing regrowth of alpine rangelands seems to be important, not only to maintain high biodiversity but also to secure good product quality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptions Méditerranéennes. Series A: Mediterranean Seminars
PublisherCIHEAM-IAMZ; INRA; FAO; VetAgro Sup Clermont-Ferrand; Montpellier SupAgro
Number of pages4
Volumeissue 109
ISBN (Print)2-85352-531-7
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameOptions Méditerranéennes. Series A: Mediterranean Seminars


  • Alpine grasslands
  • Biodiversity
  • GPS
  • Grazing
  • Milk
  • Quality
  • Rangelands

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