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The Case for Grazing Dairy Cows

School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Loughborough, Leicester LE12 5RD, UK
Chalcombe Ltd., Wickham, Hampshire PO17 5PQ, UK
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2SB, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin Gierus
Agronomy 2021, 11(12), 2466;
Received: 20 October 2021 / Revised: 25 November 2021 / Accepted: 1 December 2021 / Published: 3 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing Sustainability of Ruminant Livestock Forage-Based Systems)
The case for grazing dairy cows at pasture is reviewed in six categories: (i) optimal land use for food production; (ii) soil carbon sequestration; (iii) carbon footprint; (iv) animal health and welfare; (v) effects on human health of milk produced from grazed pasture; and (vi) consumer demand for milk from grazed cows. Land best-suited to grazing is uncultivatable peaty soil receiving relatively low levels of fertilisation. With soil carbon sequestration, carbon footprint is lower for grazing than for other systems of milk production. Some indices of animal health and welfare (e.g., lameness, status of hock integument) are influenced positively by extent of grazing. Benefits to human health may accrue from higher levels of essential amino acids, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid in milk from cows given pasture compared to diets based on silage and concentrates. Milk producers, processors and supermarkets are responding to consumer demand for milk and milk products from cows given access to pasture during the grazing season. The major constraint to milk production from grazing is energy intake. Research opportunities to address this constraint include application of remote sensing and artificial intelligence to grazing management. View Full-Text
Keywords: milk production; soil health; carbon sequestration; animal welfare; human health milk production; soil health; carbon sequestration; animal welfare; human health
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wilkinson, J.M.; Chamberlain, A.T.; Rivero, M.J. The Case for Grazing Dairy Cows. Agronomy 2021, 11, 2466.

AMA Style

Wilkinson JM, Chamberlain AT, Rivero MJ. The Case for Grazing Dairy Cows. Agronomy. 2021; 11(12):2466.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wilkinson, J. Michael, A. Thomas Chamberlain, and M. Jordana Rivero. 2021. "The Case for Grazing Dairy Cows" Agronomy 11, no. 12: 2466.

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