Making More from Your Grass
A Fresh Look at Pasture
Grazed grass is the cheapest feed on most British dairy farms, yet it is also the most poorly utilised. Whether grazed or fed as silage, grass provides over half the dry matter intake of most dairy cows. This means small improvements in utitlisation can have a major impact on milk production costs.
Detailed forage costings calculated in 2000 showed that herds producing around 2000 litres more milk from grazed grass can save 1.3p/litre in purchased feeds, leading to bottom line profitability improvements of 0.7p/litre.
Further studies demonstrate purchased feed cost savings of 1.6 -1.8p/litre across all herd performance levels - from 6000 to 9000 litres/cow.
In addition to purchased feed cot savings, researchers have identified significant economies in the traditionally "fixed" cost of labour and power and machinery as a result of improved grassland management. This clearly dispels the conventional wisdom that maximising milk from grass is only relevant to low input systems with spring calving herds.
The cash cost is the total cost of production less charges for land rental, silo and feeding area depreciation, and feeding machinery and labour. The total cost involves all charges, including land and feeding-out costs.