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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Herd Size and Milk Production Level Effects on Profitability and Phosphorusloading with Management-Intensive Grazing

Authors
item Winsten, J - DEPT. OF AGRIC. ECONOM.
item Rotz, Clarence
item Ford, S - PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 22, 2000
Publication Date: July 18, 2000
Citation: Winsten, J.R., Rotz, C.A., Ford, S.A. 2000. Herd size and milk production level effects on profitability and phosphorusloading with management-intensive grazing. American Forage and Grassland Council Proceedings. 9:110-114.

Interpretive Summary: Declining farm profitability and accumulating excess soil phosphorus are simultaneous concerns for the Northeast's dairy industry and its environment. Solutions that increase profitability and minimize phosphorus accumulation in the soil are necessary for future sustainability of the industry. Management-intensive grazing (MIG) with spring calving is a strategy that is shown to address both concerns. MIG is a system in which animals are grazed in one section (paddock) of a larger pasture for a short period of time, often 12 or 24 hours, before they are rotated to a new section. Spring calving is a management strategy in which the entire herd calves during a four to eight week period in the spring so that all animals can follow the same lactation schedule. This analysis shows MIG with spring calving to be superior to a conventional dairy system with regard to profitability and phosphorus accumulation. Additionally, the results demonstrate that, for this system, smaller herd sizes with greater per cow milk production are the best way to achieve adequate farm profitability without excess phosphorus accumulation. These results are important for policy aimed at achieving healthy rural economies while lessening the impact of dairy production on water quality.

Technical Abstract: Declining profitability and accumulating excess soil phosphorus are simultaneous concerns for the Northeast's dairy industry. Management- intensive grazing with spring calving is a strategy that can address both concerns. A representative 200-acre Pennsylvania dairy farm of this type was simulated over 25 years of weather to determine the effects of herd size and milk production level on profitability and phosphorus loading. The results indicate that a 100-cow herd producing 17,000 lb milk per cow can achieve a net return of $64,000 while maintaining a long-term phosphorus balance.

Last Modified: 12/24/2014
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