Small dairy herds are needed in a sustainable Swedish food production!

Last changed: 21 November 2023
Smaller milk herd

In this three year long project, “The role of small-scale dairy cattle production in a sustainable and robust Swedish food supply”, we will map small-scale dairy herds in Sweden, and identify opportunities and obstacles for these herds to continuing producing sustainable dairy products in the future.

Dairy cows are an important part of a sustainable and resilient food production as they facilitate circular flows on the farm and contribute to carbon sequestration, open landscapes and biodiversity. To achieve a sustainable dairy production in all parts of Sweden, we need large as well as small dairy herds. However, there is a lack of knowledge and adapted advisory services towards small dairy producers, whom often have a diverse production with on-farm refinements. For them to be a part of a sustainable food production, they need to be climate adapted and sustainable, with high biosecurity and good animal health, and we don't know if that is the case today. Thus, we will map sustainability and resilience in small dairy cattle herds with focus on biosecurity, working conditions, animal welfare, climate adaptation and environmental impact. The results will high-light opportunities, obstacles and challenges for these farmers, and lead to increased knowledge and improved advisory services.

Thus, we will map sustainability and resilience in small dairy cattle herds with focus on working conditions, animal welfare, biosecurity, climate adaptation and environmental impact. 

Preliminary results show that low profitability, high work load, difficulties with changing ownerships to younger generations, need of free-stall housing systems and administrative burdons are important challenges for many small scale dairy producers. Collected data will be compiled and presented in different forms during 2024. Some preliminary results were presented at an agricultural economics conference in Uppsala in October 2023, see link below (in Swedish).

Projecttime and funding:
2022-01-01 – 2024-12-31, och finansierat av Stiftelsen Lantbruksforskning


The prodject is conducted through collaboration between:

  • Department of Clinical Sciences (SLU)
  • Department of Economy (SLU)
  • Department of Animal Nutrition and Management
  • Department of Energy and Technology
  • The national veterinary institute (SVA)
  • Växa, R&D Animal Health