Biophysical and economic water productivity of dual-purpose cattle farming

Sraïri Mohamed Taher, Benjelloun R., Karrou M., Ates S., Kuper Marcel. 2016. Biophysical and economic water productivity of dual-purpose cattle farming. Animal (Cambridge), 10 (2) : pp. 283-291.

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Liste HCERES des revues (en SHS) : oui

Thème(s) HCERES des revues (en SHS) : Psychologie-éthologie-ergonomie

Abstract : This study analyzes key factors influencing water productivity in cattle rearing, particularly in contexts characterized by water scarcity. This was done through year-round monitoring of on-farm practices within five smallholder farms located in the Saïss area (northern Morocco). The on-farm monitoring protocol consisted of characterizing: (i) volumes of water used for fodder production and distinguished by source (rainfall, surface irrigation and groundwater), (ii) virtual water contained in off-farm feed resources, (iii) total forage biomass production, (iv) dietary rations fed to lactating cows and their calves and (v) milk output and live weight gain. Findings reveal a mean water footprint of 1.62±0.81 and 8.44±1.09 m3/kg of milk and of live weight gain, respectively. Groundwater represented only 13.1% and 2.2% of the total water used to get milk and live weight gain, respectively, while rainfall represented 53.0% and 48.1% of the total water for milk and live weight gain, respectively. The remaining water volumes used came from surface irrigation water (7.4% for milk and 4.0% for live weight gain) and from virtual water (26.5% for milk and 44.7% for live weight gain). The results also revealed a relatively small gross margin per m3 of water used by the herd, not exceeding an average value of US $ 0.05, when considering both milk and live weight. Given the large variability in farm performances, which affect water productivity in cattle rearing throughout the production process, we highlight the potential for introducing a series of interventions that are aimed at saving water, while concurrently improving efficiency in milk production and live weight gain. These interventions should target the chain of production functions that are implemented throughout the process of water productivity in cattle rearing. Moreover, these interventions are of particular importance given our findings that livestock production depends largely upon rainfall, rather than groundwater, in an area afflicted with sustained droughts, overexploitation of groundwater resources and growing water scarcity. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Petite exploitation agricole, Élevage, Efficience d'utilisation de l'eau, Utilisation de l'eau, eau, Marge brute, Gain de poids, Productivité, Bovin, Lait, Production laitière, Culture irriguée, Plante fourragère, Eau d'irrigation, Eau de pluie, eau souterraine, Stress dû à la sécheresse

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Maroc

Mots-clés libres : Cattle, Gross margin, Live weight gain, Milk, Water productivity

Classification Agris : P10 - Water resources and management
L01 - Animal husbandry
F01 - Crops
F06 - Irrigation
L02 - Animal feeding
F62 - Plant physiology - Growth and development

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 1 (2014-2018) - Agriculture écologiquement intensive

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Sraïri Mohamed Taher, IAV Hassan II (MAR)
  • Benjelloun R., IAV Hassan II (MAR)
  • Karrou M., International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (SYR)
  • Ates S., International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (SYR)
  • Kuper Marcel, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (MAR) ORCID: 0000-0002-1240-0592

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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