Characterisation of multi-species livestock farms in Quebec

Citation

Genest-Richard P., Halde C., Breune I., Mundler P., Devillers N. 2024. Une caractérisation de l’élevage alternatif au Québec. 3ème congrès annuel du RQRAD (Réseau québécois de recherche en agriculture durable), 13-15 février 2024, Québec (QC). p136-137.

Plain language summary

In Quebec, livestock and the fields used to feed them occupy the majority of farmland and economic activity, with harmful consequences for ecosystems in the process. From an agro-ecological perspective, do non-conventional livestock farming systems represent a desirable future for livestock farming in Quebec? The aim of this exploratory research was to gain a better understanding of the alternative livestock sector in Quebec. To achieve this, qualitative and quantitative data were collected in 2022 using a questionnaire, farm visits and semi-directed interviews with a sample of 15 Quebec livestock farms with practices different from those of conventional livestock farming. The farms selected raised pork in addition to at least one other animal species, used pasture for at least one species, and used at least one short distribution circuit channel. Multi-species livestock businesses in Quebec do not form a homogeneous group. We divided the sample using a hierarchical ascending classification based on a principal component analysis of structure and process indicators. A first group is characterised by farms with more ruminants on pasture, a second by farms with more monogastric animals and high input dependency. Between these two poles, farms can be characterised by wide disparities in land and input use efficiency, labour productivity, enterprise size, sourcing practices and marketing methods. This project provides an initial portrait of multi-species livestock farming in Quebec and opens the door to a more in-depth analysis of alternative livestock farming systems, as well as to a broader reflection on the place and role of livestock farming in food systems.

Abstract

In Quebec, livestock and the fields used to feed them occupy the majority of farmland and economic activity, with harmful consequences for ecosystems in the process. From an agro-ecological perspective, do non-conventional livestock farming systems represent a desirable future for livestock farming in Quebec? The aim of this exploratory research was to gain a better understanding of the alternative livestock sector in Quebec. To achieve this, qualitative and quantitative data were collected in 2022 using a questionnaire, farm visits and semi-directed interviews with a sample of 15 Quebec livestock farms with practices different from those of conventional livestock farming. The farms selected raised pork in addition to at least one other animal species, used pasture for at least one species, and used at least one short distribution circuit channel. Multi-species livestock businesses in Quebec do not form a homogeneous group. We divided the sample using a hierarchical ascending classification based on a principal component analysis of structure and process indicators. A first group is characterised by farms with more ruminants on pasture, a second by farms with more monogastric animals and high input dependency. Between these two poles, farms can be characterised by wide disparities in land and input use efficiency, labour productivity, enterprise size, sourcing practices and marketing methods. This project provides an initial portrait of multi-species livestock farming in Quebec and opens the door to a more in-depth analysis of alternative livestock farming systems, as well as to a broader reflection on the place and role of livestock farming in food systems.

Publication date

2024-02-13