Trentingrana cheese production: analysis of dairy systems
This research aimed to study the relationships between livestock systems and typical products in the Trento Autonomous Province, a mountainous area of the Eastern Italian Alps. A total of 1111 dairy farms were censed in the province; a sample of 678 was surveyed collecting information on herd composition in terms of animal breeding and category, management system and quality of milk. Data were analyzed with a non-hierarchical cluster procedure that clustered farms into 6 types: modern farms with traditional feeding (86 farms); small farms with corn silage (51 farms); modern farms with unifeed and corn silage (63 farms); traditional small farms without summer pasture (146 farms); intensive farms (34 farms); traditional small farms (298 farms). The traditional system are able to maintain a greater animal biodiversity than the intensive ones, thanks to the farming of indigenous breeds. This group of farms is largely involved in the Trentingrana cheese production, a traditional long ripened cheese (DOP) of the area, whereas the intensive systems produce milk for large distribution. This study demonstrates that in the province there is a wide variability of livestock farming systems. Traditional systems which have an important role for maintenance of landscape and farmed biodiversity are strongly connected with the typical cheese production, and this association could help in maintaining their economic viability.