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Scientific articles

Dedieu B. 2009. Qualification of the adaptive capacities of livestock farming systems. Revista Brasileira de Zootechnia, 38, pp 397 – 404.


This paper aims at exploring what is covered by « adapting to last » with a farming systems approach. Long term dynamics can be analyzed as adaptive cycles, the system being permanently exposed to disturbances and shocks. Mobilizing the concept of resilience, we analyze the factors that differentiate the principles for long term action the livestock farmers have, principles which give consistency to the family - farms trajectories. With the concept of operational flexibility, we qualify the sources of flexibility the livestock farmers maintain to cope with hazards. They are internal, related to the production process regulation properties, to the technical (adaptive or rigid) specifications, to the sales policies, or external related to the information and commercial networks. Understanding the production process regulation properties require livestock farming systems models (i.e. combining decisional and biological sub-systems) that can simulate how herd dynamics operate under fluctuant rules or productive parameters. It also requires evaluating the room for manoeuvre the work organization let to the farmer. All these aspects are illustrated with on farm studies in herbivore systems (sheep, dairy, and beef).


Key words: adaptation, flexibility, livestock farming systems, resilience, room for manoeuvre, system regulations





Hostiou N. and Dedieu B. (2011). A method for assessing work productivity and flexibility in livestock farms. Animal, 6 , pp 852-862


Changes affecting livestock farming systems have made farm work a central concern for both the sector and for farmers themselves. Increased pressure on farms to be competitive and productive together with farmers’ demand for greater autonomy, holidays or time to spend on private activities and the family converge to underline the two key dimensions of work – productivity and flexibility – required for the assessment of work organization. This paper proposes a method called the QuaeWork (QUAlification and Evaluation of Work in livestock farms) to assess work productivity and flexibility on a farm, and its use to identify how livestock management can contribute to work organization on dairy farms. The QuaeWork method was set up through an iterative process combining surveys conducted with farmers in two regions of France, discussions with different experts and literature review. The QuaeWork was applied on a sample of seven dairy farms in the southern Massif Central in France to identify patterns of how livestock management contributes to work organization. The QuaeWork was used to analyze work organization over the year through a systemic approach to the farm, integrating interactions between herd and land management, workforce composition, equipment facilities and combinations of activities through a characterization of ‘who does what, when and for how long’. The criteria for assessing work productivity were work duration (routine work, seasonal work) and work efficiency (per livestock unit or hectare of utilized agricultural area). The criteria for assessing work flexibility were room for manoeuvre and adjustments to internal and external events. The three main patterns of livestock management practices to work organization were identified. In pattern-1, farmers used indoor stable feeding practices with delegated work, with moderate room for manoeuvre and efficiency. In pattern-3, farmers used simplified milking, reproduction and breeding practices to seasonalize work and make it efficient with consistent room for manoeuvre. The method suggests social sustainability criteria to assess work productivity and flexibility, which are important for making reasoned decisions on livestock farm changes, especially innovations. Researchers could usefully exploit the QuaeWork to integrate work objectives (productivity, flexibility) into technical and economic goals.


Key words: work organization, labor, assessment, sustainability, livestock farming systems 


Dodd M.B., Wedderburn M.E., Parminter T.G., Thorrold B.S., Quinn J.M. 2008 Transformation toward agricultural sustainability in New Zealand hill country pastoral landscapes. Agricultural Systems 98 (2) : pp 95-107.


A multi-stakeholder representative group was established to oversee a project examining the economic and environmental performance of a representative North Island hill country catchment farm at Whatawhata in the western Waikato region of New Zealand. The group included representation from landowners, government agencies and scientists. The group was facilitated through an action research approach incorporating three phases: (1) awareness; (2) forecasting; and (3) implementation. The group identified a set of goals and indicators relevant to achieving a “well managed rural hill catchment” The indicators were used to (a) assess the current state of the catchment farm in relation to the goals; (b) evaluate a range of strategies for improving system performance and (c) evaluate progress toward the goals following land use changes implemented within the catchment farm. Key issues for the group included the availability of data and the setting of appropriate performance benchmarks. From both economic and environmental points of view, the existing farm system was failing to meet the goals set by the management group. Key factors driving these outcomes included the physical and productivity limitations of the soil resource, poor livestock performance and poor water quality. A mixture of research observations, decision support models and expert stakeholder knowledge indicated scope for improving performance through forestry, riparian management, erosion control and livestock intensification options. Based on their evaluation of the forecasting results, the group developed a new land use plan, which depended on significant capital investment in land use and enterprise change. Subsequent monitoring of soils, vegetation, water quality, animal production and financial results over four years showed marked improvement in a number of key performance indicators. In particular, sediment and phosphorus loads and faecal coliform levels decreased rapidly, native forest fragments showed early signs of restoration, lamb and beef productivity increased and the per hectare financial returns of the pastoral component increased. Better matching of land use to land capability has led to short-term improvement in some aspects of the economic and environmental performance of the catchment farm. Progress toward a more sustainable agricultural system was achieved, but at a substantial cost for transformation of the biophysical system, which has implications for the wider sector.


Keywords: Catchment, Environmental performance, Goals, Hill country, Land use change



2010 Transformations des systèmes d'élevage et du travail des éleveurs. Numéro spécial Cahiers Agricultures, Volume 19, Numéro 5. Coordination éditoriale de Sylvie Cournut, Christine Rawski, Sophie Madelrieux. © Éd. John Libbey Eurotext


Ce numéro thématique des Cahiers Agricultures explore les interactions entre conduite d'élevage, main-d'œuvre, organisation et efficience du travail dans différentes régions du monde (l'Amazonie brésilienne, les montagnes françaises, la Pampa argentine et uruguayenne, le Sahel sénégalais et les montagnes du Vietnam) en abordant des questions telles que la pluriactivité, la place du salariat, le statut des femmes, et le rapport des éleveurs au travail.



2010 Transformations des systèmes d'élevage extensif dans les territoires ruraux. Numéro spécial Cahiers Agricultures, Volume 19, Numéro 2. Coordination éditoriale d’Annick Gibon et Alexandre Ickowicz © Éd. John Libbey Eurotext


Ce numéro thématique des Cahiers Agricultures dresse un ensemble de réflexion sur la fonction de l'élevage dans les territoires. Sur quoi l'élevage est-il attendu dans les années à venir dans ces espaces où il joue aujourd'hui un important rôle économique, un rôle social ou même un rôle d’utilisateurs de ressources sensibles ? Comment pourra-il être présent à ces rendez-vous du futur ? Comment rendre compte de l’élevage comme une pièce maîtresse de devenir des territoires et pas seulement comme un producteur de protéines animales et de gaz à effet de serre ?