Dairy Farming Without Grain

In response to increasing demand for grass-fed dairy products from cows fed only forages, some organic milk buyers are now paying a premium for this “Grassmilk”. In addition, many dairy farms direct marketing raw milk or farmstead cheeses are interested in zero grain dairying. But zero grain dairy farming is very challenging, so there are still a relatively small number of farms doing it successfully. This article is a short summary of the most important management issues for farms considering a zero grain dairy ration. I’d like to thank the many farmers I talked to for sharing information on the challenges and successes of their transitions to zero-grain systems. This information can help other farmers make informed decisions on how to make the transition successfully, or determine if zero-grain is a good match for their farm at all. “You need high quality forages, and a lot more of them than you think!” This was the most common comment from farmers I spoke with. Many of them had either reduced herd size, or added additional acreage of both pasture and harvested forages.   In general, farms in VT and NY producing all their own stored forages had between 4 and 5 acres of cropland and pasture per cow. One farmer said he “had to add in more good quality crop land, not just more hilly pasture land” The increased need for acreage was due to a number of factors including: The need for more acres of pasture per cow to increase pasture dry matter int

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

Translate »