Dairy farms are currently faced with economic and environmental challenges, such as volatile prices, extreme weather events, and market demands for more animal-friendly production systems. Improving grazing management can lead to happier cows that produce quality milk with a better price for the farmer. Exchanging experiences can help farmers make their own farms more robust and resilient.
The Dutch Operational Group ‘Maximum milk from grass’ is exploring business systems where grazing pasture plays a central role, and where as much quality milk as possible is produced with pasture grass. In August 2018, 7 organic dairy farmers, 1 cheese maker and 1 adviser visited a number of dairy farms in the South-West of Ireland to see what’s happening across European borders.
Coordinator Harm De Vries: “The farms that we visited focus on offering as much grass as possible to the cows. They work with a system of strip grazing and early spring calving, which support a high grass intake, resulting in low production costs. Because of the favourable climate, the cows are grazing the most part of the year. We focus more on herbaceous pastures, and getting a maximum of milk from our pastures. Our cows generally don’t spend as much time grazing outside. We may have a higher cost through additional feeding and different stable infrastructures, but we gain a good, constant production. While it’s not affordable to change a production system overnight, it was extremely interesting to experience the way different management systems are being run. Knowledge exchange is valuable for everyone involved in agriculture, especially within the EU. We can learn a lot from each other.”