Auteur: Mantovi P., Dal Prà A., Pacchioli M.T. and Ligabue M.
Jaar van uitgifte: 2015
In the Po river valley, which represents the largest plain area of Northern Italy, the two main dairy farming systems are associated with cheese production: one for Grana Padano (GP) cheese using silage as the main forage source, and the other for Parmigiano-Reggiano (PR) cheese using hay, where silage fodders are banned to prevent Clostridium contamination and potential swelling defects in the cheese with the lengthy seasoning times. Maize silage is the mainstay forage base for fresh milk and GP cheese forage systems. Farm forage self-sufficiency is not always possible, mainly due to dry seasons and/or the practice of maize monoculture. In addition to the difficulties arising from low quantity production, problems of fodder safety (e.g. mycotoxins contamination of maize grain) and nutritional value occur. Regulations in force for PR production set the minimum level of dry matter intake from hay at 50% of dairy cows’ rations. Difficulties arise in optimizing nutritional values and dry-matter intake when poor quality forages are available. Research is ongoing to evaluate the optimal alfalfa-grass mix, investigating how to maximize forage nutritional value and digestibility. Moreover, both dairy farming systems are highly dependent on imported feedstuffs: soybean from overseas, maize and other starch grains. Ongoing research activities are seeking to establish whether maize or soybean can be partially replaced by other crops (e.g. sorghum, triticale, grains with high protein content, alfalfa and grain legumes).