Innovations have improved the efficiency of ruminant production systems in Cyprus

Papachristoforou, Christakis (2012)

Book chapter

Substantial improvements in the efficiency of ruminant production systems in Cyprus resulting from technological and process innovations adopted by farmers have been realised over the last three decades. In the dairy cattle sector, the technological innovations introduced mainly concern mechanical and electronic systems to control the feeding, management and milking of cows. The expansion of artificial insemination has also contributed to the genetic improvement of the animals. All these have driven the national average milk yield from less than 4,800 kg in the mid 1980s, to about 6,300 kg today, while the average yield in recorded herds exceeds 7,000 kg. However, in 1990 there were 535 dairy herds, whereas today there are only 240. In the sheep/goat sector, the most important innovations relate to the adoption of early weaning, artificial rearing, fattening of lambs/kids, changes in the age at slaughter, along with better herd management methods, and the introduction of milking machines. Weaning age has been reduced to 5 weeks for lambs and 7 weeks for kids leading to increases in the quantity of milk sold; further increases have been obtained by artificial rearing of lambs/kids. Fattening from weaning to the slaughter age of 18-20 weeks, exploits the period of optimal efficiency for growth and produces good quality carcasses. The 'two matings per year' system adopted by many farmers is also beneficial, because it extends the marketing period of sheep/goat products. As a consequence of these changes, the sector has moved towards mediumhigh input systems and larger farms