2015-06-15   facebook twitter rss

Fully Housed Versus Grazing Systems

At the recent AFBI Dairy Seminar AgriSearch launched a new booklet informing the dairy industry on the issues surrounding fully housed versus grazing systems.

Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, in collaboration with dairy scientists at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, have just completed a project comparing the relative merits of fully housed versus grazing systems for dairy cows.

A must read for progressive dairy farmers the thought provoking AgriSearch booklet comparing milk production from fully housed versus traditionally grazed herds was launched by, from left,  Dr Niamh O'Connell (QUB), Jason Rankin (AgriSearch), Dr Gareth Arnott (QUB), Dr Conrad Ferris (AFBI), James Campbell (AgriSearch) and Dr Sinclair Mayne (AFBI)

A must read for progressive dairy farmers the thought provoking AgriSearch booklet comparing milk production from fully housed versus traditionally grazed herds was launched by, from left, Dr Niamh O'Connell (QUB), Jason Rankin (AgriSearch), Dr Gareth Arnott (QUB), Dr Conrad Ferris (AFBI), James Campbell (AgriSearch) and Dr Sinclair Mayne (AFBI)

Over recent years, the dairy industry has become more intensive and a number of farmers have moved to fully housed production systems in which cows do not get access to outdoor grazing. Much of the information on the relative merits of housed versus grazing systems is based on anecdotal evidence or ‘hear-say’. As a result, AgriSearch commissioned a review of scientific studies comparing these different dairy production systems.

Following the scientific review, the researchers have launched a booklet aimed at informing the dairy industry. The booklet spans a number of boundaries including cow health and welfare, milk production, cow fertility, environmental impact and economics.

This is particularly timely given the low milk price that dairy farmers are currently enduring. In an increasingly globalised dairy industry milk price volatility is now a commercial reality. Many farmers are questioning the future direction of their production systems, and the booklet provides an evidence-based source of information that can be used to determine the best strategy for their situation.

A key outcome from the review has been to demonstrate that there are considerable benefits from incorporating grazing within milk production systems.

The booklet can be downloaded from the AgriSearch website.

Agrisearch

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