Concentrates on Irish Dairies: Milk Solids Improve, Pasture Deteriorates21 January 2015
Purchased feeds boost milk solids on pasture based, spring calving farms but frequently lead to declining use and profit from pasture, according to an Irish study.
The Agriculture Food and Development Authority (TEAGASC) has made the link after studying physical, genetic and financial performance data from 1,561 seasonal calving pasture-based dairy farms in the Republic of Ireland.
Study objectives, which used data from 2008 to 2011, were to characterise the productivity of dairy systems differing in the proportion of the cow’s diet coming from grazed pasture versus purchased supplementary feeds.
Milk yield and yield of milk solids per cow and per ha increased linearly with increased use of purchased feed (31kg milk fat and 27kg milk protein/t DM of purchased feed per ha more), but pasture utilisation/ha and net profit/ha declined (minus 600kg DM/ha and minus €78/ha) with every ton of DM of supplementary feed purchased/ha.
Background for Study
As land becomes a limiting resource for pasture based dairy farming, the inclusion of purchased supplementary feeds to increase milk production/cow through greater dry matter intake, and per ha through increased stocking rate, is often proposed as a strategy to increase profitability.