Increasing Grazing in Dairy Cow Milk Production Systems in Europe
Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork P61 P30, Ireland
INRAE, AgroCampus Ouest, Physiologie Environnement et Génétique pour l’Animal et les Systèmes d’Elevage, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France
Grassland Science, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, 8251 JZ Dronten, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2443; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062443
Received: 4 March 2020 / Revised: 17 March 2020 / Accepted: 18 March 2020 / Published: 20 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Grazing Systems)
In temperate regions of Europe where grass grows for most of the year, grazed pasture is the lowest cost feed for milk production. Grazed pasture can make a contribution to dairy cow feeding systems in other parts of Europe, but is less important. While there are many challenges to maintaining or increasing the proportion of grazed grass in dairy cow diets, there are also opportunities to increase its contribution. Grass use and quality can be challenging for several reasons, including the cow and sward interaction, and factors influencing dry matter intake. Adapting grazing management strategies can provide opportunities for incorporating grazing and perhaps increase grazing in dairy cow milk production systems. Pasture management tools and techniques offer the opportunity to increase herbage use at grazing. While there are many benefits of grazing including economic, environmental, animal welfare and social, there are also the challenges to maintaining grazed pasture in dairy cow diets. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of the challenges and opportunities for grazing in dairy milk production systems.