|Hautau, Mena - Pennsylvania State University|
Submitted to: Extension Fact Sheets
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2014
Publication Date: 6/1/2014
Citation: Orr, A.N., Soder, K.J., Hautau, M., Rubano, M.D. 2014. Case study: dairies using ultra-high stocking density grazing in the Northeastern U.S.. Extension Fact Sheets. p 1.
Technical Abstract: Proponents of ultra-high stocking density (UHSD) grazing emphasize increased forage use efficiency and soil improvement by grazing mature forage with stocking densities up to 500,000 lb per acre of beef cattle on small paddocks with rest periods up to 180 days. However, it is unclear if this management technique is appropriate for dairy farms in the northeastern United States. A case study was conducted to characterize management practices and forage and soil quality on dairy farms using self-described UHSD grazing. Data collected on 4 organic dairy farms in PA and NY practicing UHSD grazing included: pasture and soil nutrient analyses, stocking density, botanical composition, and pasture stratification. Stocking density ranged from 44,091 to 337,161 lbs per acre with 30 to 49 d of forage rest. Forage consumed was 45% of total available. Within the available forage that was eaten, cows consumed 75% of forage from layers 13 inches and higher and 49% from below 13 inches. Across years, forage CP, NDF, and NEL averaged 24%, 44.7% and 0.65 Mcal per lb, respectively. The increase in forage quality during 2012 was likely a result of forage being less mature at each successive grazing. Soil mineral content and pH were within recommended levels. Grazing dairies in PA and NY have taken a modified approach to UHSD grazing by using forages more mature than recommended in management-intensive grazing systems by allowing longer periods of forage rest.