Teagasc: 300 Day Grazing Without Quality Conflict

IRELAND - New reseqarch claims that farmers can extend the grazing period of dairy cows up to 300 days a year, without showing a decline in milk yields.
calendar icon 13 November 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

This is the subject of an article by Emer Kennedy and Michael O’Donovan, Teagasc Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre, in the latest issue of TResearch, Teagasc’s research and innovation magazine.

Irish dairy production pivots on pasture-based systems, as grazed grass is the cheapest feed source available and is cheaper by factors of 2.5 and 4.2 when compared to grass silage and concentrate, respectively.

The competitive advantage of Irish dairy production over other European milk producing countries lies in maximising the proportion of grazed grass in the diet of the lactating dairy cow. Higher profits can be achieved by improving grassland management practices.

Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre has set an ambitious target of a 300-day grazing season under optimal grazing conditions; however, all farmers should be targeting an increased number of days grazing regardless of location, says Kennedy.

Their studies have indicated that access time should be split into two separate periods (preferably after each milking) and that each period should be of at least three hours duration. Also, the animals should not be supplemented with additional feed (grass silage) when they return indoors as this will have negative effects on milk protein concentration.

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