How We Transitioned to Be A Grain Free Dairy

We here at Butterworks Farm have long been interested in no grain dairy farming. For the past forty years we have been grain growers as well as hay producers. Cereals (oats, wheat and barley) and row crops like corn and soy have fit neatly into our crop rotation with grasses and legumes. The straw byproduct of the grain is just as important to us for bedding our animals as the grain is for feeding them.  We ground the grain into a dairy ration and fed our cows grains from our own farm as opposed to buying it from the “mill”. Over the years, as our soil health and fertility has increased, we have improved the quality of our forages (grass and legumes) to the point where we have been able to reduce the amount of grain fed to our cows to 4 ½ pounds at each milking. Standard fare on most high production dairy farms is one pound of grain for every three pounds of milk produced. Our ratio was closer to 1:5. Early in 2016, we began to conclude that if the quality of our forages was so superior, we could stop feeding grain to our cows without suffering adverse consequences. In early April, we began reducing the amount of grain we fed at each milking. By the end of the month, we were down to less than three pounds per day per cow. On May 1st, we went cold turkey and joined the ranks of 100% grass fed dairy. This was an ideal time to make the transition because the cows had just left th

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.

3 thoughts on “How We Transitioned to Be A Grain Free Dairy

  1. What happened to profitability–it is not a four letter work by the way. More work, more acres required, less milk–doesn’t sound very good to me.

  2. Thanks for the candid perspective on your operation and transition. Do you feel the flavor of the milk/milk products changed significantly? Or the nutritional value? Sounds like you were already pretty forage-centric, and somewhat low grain with 9 lbs a day, compared to much dairying (which tends to use both more grain and more corn silage).

Comments are closed.

Translate »