Economic impact of grazing dairy cows on farms equipped with an automatic milking system

Oudshoorn, Frank W.; Brocard, V.; Pol, A. van den


Automatic milking Systems (AMS) have been practised for a number of years in Denmark, France and the Netherlands. During these years, combining automatic milking (AM) and pasture access for feeding has remained problematic. Grazing has, however, many benefits, both for farmers, animals, landscape, biodiversity, and for the overall image of dairy farming. In this study we compared the conomic results of dairy farms with AMS (AMS farms) which practice grazing with those of AMS farms without grazing. The economic impact of grazing dairy cows on AMS farms was analysed using accounting data of commercial dairy farms in Denmark, France and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands grazing was economically beneficial but this effect declined with increasing farm size. In France, income tended to be higher on farms that practised grazing, and in Denmark no economic difference of farmer incomes were found. A complicating factor of the analysis was that the actual feed uptake during grazing was not
recorded in the database in any of the three countries. A key recommendation from this study is that the level of grazing and intake from grazing as a proportion of the total diet is recorded in the future.