Low Impact Milk

In 2008, the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Initiative was launched, representing about 80% of producers. Their goal?  To reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk product by 25% by 2020 while improving life for dairy farmers.  It seems like a big goal, but it's something the dairy industry has been doing for decades, primarily by improving production on a per animal basis.  To reach the new goal, researchers and producers are looking at these three things: 1) Feed, 2) Manure Management, and 3) Milk Yield.  The challenge is that when you tweak one part of the system, there can be good and bad consequences in another.  It's a balancing act that will require some thought and some interesting choices. Feed Feed production, with use of fertilizer and diesel, makes up about 43% of the footprint of milk. It affects how much milk is made and the quality and quantity of manure. A lot of that can be attributed to corn production's fuel, electricity, pesticides, and fertilizers and other soil amendments. On the other hand, corn is a high quality feed that reduces the amount of methane produced in the rumen and released in burps and farts by cows. (Need more on the importance of this whole methane burps and farts thing?  Read our past article "Are Cow Farts Destroying the Planet?".) Following right behind

All the grazing management tips you need

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One thought on “Low Impact Milk

  1. Great article, like that both sides of the grass/grain debate are addressed.

    One comment I’d like to make regarding rBST…if I recall correctly from my dairy science classes, the increased risk of mastitis, lameness, and infertility for cows treated with rBST was not different to a cow that naturally produced that much milk. I.e. a cow going from 80 to 85 lb/d with rBST has the same risk of issues as a cow naturally producing 85 lb/d with no rBST. It requires more work from the farmer, that’s for sure…but to my best knowledge, rBST is not making cows sick in and of itself.

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