Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2000
Publication Date: 4/2/2000
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2000. Grazing systems for Michigan dairy farms. Proceedings of Managing Forages: Turning It Up a Notch. p. 47-54.
Technical Abstract: Rotational grazing systems can be used to reduce the resource requirements and costs in dairy production. Three grazing options were compared to a traditional corn- and alfalfa-based confinement feeding system to determine their impact on farm profit and nutrient loss to the environment. Converting 50 acres of alfalfa to permanent grass pasture increased the average annual net return of the 200-acre farm by $41 per acre. Convertin the entire land base to grass, with more extensive use of grazing and a 10% reduction in milk production, increased the net return by $68/acre and reduced nitrogen leaching loss by 50%. A low input system using all grass pasture, out wintering of animals, a spring calving cycle, and relatively low milk production allowed a long-term phosphorus balance with about 50% more animals on the farm. This low input approach reduced animal facility, feed production, and manure handling costs and increased milk sales, providing a $190 per acre increase in the average annual net return.