The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label of the European Union safeguards and guarantees top-quality traditional agri-food products that must be manufactured in a specific region according to traditional production methods. Production specifications of PDO cheeses are often focused on the cheese-making process and lack information on the dairy farming system that is upstream of the chain. This case study aimed to analyze and cluster the dairy farms that supply milk to the chain of Asiago, an internationally known PDO cheese of northeastern Italy. A large survey involving all of the cheese factories of the Asiago PDO chain was made in 2017. Each cheese factory submitted a questionnaire to its supplying dairy farmers concerning (1) farm facilities and herd management and (2) feeding program of lactating cows. Results from 517 farms were processed; there were 67 ± 27% (mean ± standard deviation) respondents per cheese factory. Four clusters of dairy farms were identified by hierarchical clustering analysis. Cluster 1 (8% of the surveyed farms) and cluster 2 (22%) are small in size and low in yield, representing the traditional milk production system; farms are mainly located on mountains or hills and have autochthonous dual-purpose breeds mostly housed in tiestall barns. By rearing cattle of endangered breeds and feeding cows primarily with forages produced on-farm together with the use of pasture, these clusters, and especially cluster 1, have shown to provide essential ecosystem services for landscape and biodiversity preservation in the alpine areas. Clusters 3 and 4 (34 and 36% of the surveyed farms, respectively) gather medium-scale farms mainly located in the lowland that operate according to modern management and housing systems and rear high-producing dairy cows. These cows are mainly fed total mixed rations based on corn silage, but the dietary forage:concentrate ratio is kept relatively high, as farmers are more interested in producing high-quality milk for cheese-making than pushing for yield. Regardless of the cluster allocation, a considerable cow longevity, which is a recognized “iceberg indicator” of cattle well-being, was highlighted. This study showed that different farming systems may lay behind a single PDO cheese. The knowledge of their characteristics is important to reinforce the PDO production specifications as well as to distinguish and protect niche products that come from specific groups of farms that provide essential ecosystem services.

An insight into the dairy chain of a Protected Designation of Origin cheese: The case study of Asiago cheese

Lora I.;Zidi A.;Magrin L.;Prevedello P.;Cozzi G.
2020

Abstract

The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label of the European Union safeguards and guarantees top-quality traditional agri-food products that must be manufactured in a specific region according to traditional production methods. Production specifications of PDO cheeses are often focused on the cheese-making process and lack information on the dairy farming system that is upstream of the chain. This case study aimed to analyze and cluster the dairy farms that supply milk to the chain of Asiago, an internationally known PDO cheese of northeastern Italy. A large survey involving all of the cheese factories of the Asiago PDO chain was made in 2017. Each cheese factory submitted a questionnaire to its supplying dairy farmers concerning (1) farm facilities and herd management and (2) feeding program of lactating cows. Results from 517 farms were processed; there were 67 ± 27% (mean ± standard deviation) respondents per cheese factory. Four clusters of dairy farms were identified by hierarchical clustering analysis. Cluster 1 (8% of the surveyed farms) and cluster 2 (22%) are small in size and low in yield, representing the traditional milk production system; farms are mainly located on mountains or hills and have autochthonous dual-purpose breeds mostly housed in tiestall barns. By rearing cattle of endangered breeds and feeding cows primarily with forages produced on-farm together with the use of pasture, these clusters, and especially cluster 1, have shown to provide essential ecosystem services for landscape and biodiversity preservation in the alpine areas. Clusters 3 and 4 (34 and 36% of the surveyed farms, respectively) gather medium-scale farms mainly located in the lowland that operate according to modern management and housing systems and rear high-producing dairy cows. These cows are mainly fed total mixed rations based on corn silage, but the dietary forage:concentrate ratio is kept relatively high, as farmers are more interested in producing high-quality milk for cheese-making than pushing for yield. Regardless of the cluster allocation, a considerable cow longevity, which is a recognized “iceberg indicator” of cattle well-being, was highlighted. This study showed that different farming systems may lay behind a single PDO cheese. The knowledge of their characteristics is important to reinforce the PDO production specifications as well as to distinguish and protect niche products that come from specific groups of farms that provide essential ecosystem services.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3350066
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