A Northern Irish analysis found margin over feed was £26 a cow larger for cows provided pasture entry over a 100-day interval.

This was no matter a 12% fall in milk yield and cows solely supplementing an entire blended ration (TMR) with 5kg dry matter (DM) a cow a day consumption of grazed grass.

The analysis, which occurred on the high-yielding herd on the Agri-Meals and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), builds on evaluation on the Agriculture and Meals Development Authority (Teagasc) at Moorepark, County Cork.

This earlier evaluation found robotic visits and pasture consumption could possibly be ample in packages combining robotic milking and grazing.

See moreover: How a dairy farmer has built-in robots and grazing cows

AFBI dairy and grassland researcher Dr Debbie McConnell confused that, even with low grass intakes, ample was eaten to affect feed worth and current a revenue in margin over feed.

“Even now with the higher fertiliser prices and ammonium nitrate at £600/t or £700/t, high-quality, well-managed grazed grass stays the best feed now we now have,” Dr McConnell knowledgeable Farmers Weekly.

Study design

  • 48 cows in two groups
  • 100-day analysis from June to August
  • Extreme-genetic benefit herd of worthwhile lifetime index (PLI) +£322
  • Cows balanced for calving date, lactation, liveweight, yield, physique scenario ranking, PLI and predicted transmitting abilities for milk, fat and protein
  • Cows given three weeks of teaching for robots and computerized gates
  • All cows have been early-lactation, spring-calving cows
  • Pre-experimental yield of 39.8kg

How the analysis labored

Cows have been reduce up into two groups. One group was provided entry to pasture by way of an computerized grazing gate and the alternative was housed repeatedly by way of the summer season season of 2021.

Pasture was allotted proper right into a morning block and a day block, and each block was reduce up into 24 paddocks.

One paddock in each block was grazed day-to-day. Two electrical fences have been organize for each paddock each day.

The workforce measured milk yield and constituents, change in liveweight, focus, TMR and grass consumption, milking interval and go to behavior, grazing effectivity and grass utilisation and time at pasture.

A feed worth was calculated that included all costs of forage manufacturing and the TMR worth, and a milk worth was calculated from yield and milk constituents.

Milk constituents fell throughout the grazed group, nonetheless this was not statistically very important, acknowledged Dr McConnell.

Day-to-day routines for housed and grazing cows all through 100-day analysis

Group Housed group Grazing group
Feeding Full-time housing of 24 cows on a TMR weight-reduction plan (maintenance plus 24 litres) and fed to yield by way of milking robotic at 0.45kg/litre Grazing by day and housed at night. Fed half the TMR allocation of housed group, specializing in 10kg DM a cow a day of grazed grass in two visits to pasture and fed to yield (0.45kg/litre)
4am Grazing gate opens robotically
7-8am Any cows not milked for 10 hours are moved to prepared pen for robotic Cows prepared in shed moved to prepared pen for robotic
12pm Grazing gate opens for subsequent paddock robotically
1pm TMR feed allocation to bunker
7-8pm Any cows not milked for 10 hours are moved to prepared pen for robotic Cows nonetheless grazing in paddocks are launched in from the sphere and positioned throughout the prepared pen for the robotic

Take-away messages

  • Cows hottest morning grazing Residuals in morning paddocks have been 5% lower than afternoon paddocks. Cows spent 5 hours 9 minutes at pasture throughout the morning and three hours 39 minutes throughout the afternoon
  • Distance is important The furthest paddock was solely 350m away from the shed gate and allowed additional robotic visits throughout the housed cows. Grass utilisation was practically 78% throughout the morning and 73% throughout the afternoon. Evaluation from world huge displays visits to robots endure if cows stroll 850m or additional to graze
  • Weight purchase lower at grass Cows which were housed have been 27kg heavier on the end of the trial. Nonetheless this had no notable affect on subsequent fertility
  • Dry matter consumption lower at grass Lower yields from the grazing cows was likely on account of a lower dry matter weight-reduction plan (16% versus 38.5%) and elevated vitality expenditure from strolling
  • Fencing is labour intensive Two fences have been put up for each paddock day by day, which took time and would need factoring in on a industrial farm

Cow effectivity and margins

Metric Housed Grazing
Milk yield (kg a cow a day) 37.2 32.6
Milk fat (%) 4.01 3.85
Milk protein (%) 3.37 3.34
Liveweight purchase (kg) 26.9 4.74
TMR consumption 17 7.9
Focus consumption (kg/DM a cow a day) 8.7 6
Silage consumption (kg/DM a cow a day) 14 6.5
Feed costs (£ a cow a day) 4.95 3.38
Milk earnings (£ a cow a day) 10.60 9.29
Margin over feed (£ a cow a day) 5.65 5.90

Robots and grazing

The trial was prompted by a delicate progress in robotic milking in Northern Ireland over the earlier 10 years. About 10% of dairy cows in Northern Ireland are literally milked robotically.

Addressing a present GrassCheck GB webinar (3 February), Dr McConnell revealed an AFBI survey that confirmed a bent for robotic conversion to preclude grazing.

Of the farms surveyed, 62.5% grazed the primary milking cow group by way of the summer season season earlier to arrange. After arrange, 67.7% provided forage by way of silage and TMRs and did not graze the first group of cows.

Nonetheless Dr McConnell acknowledged {{that a}} rising physique of information could persuade farmers to stay with grazing if making the change.

“Milk from grass is good for the commerce’s image,” acknowledged Dr McConnell. “Clients desire to see cows grazing in summer season season.

“We’re in a position to current additional margin and an monetary trigger for grazing, and we moreover know that milk from grazed grass has elevated ranges of vitamin D and polyunsaturated fatty acids, so it produces a better product. There could also be an monetary and environmental win proper right here.”

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