Milk from cereals and high quality herbage only

Last changed: 06 December 2023

The potential of a cereal based diet, especially after peak lactation

Project responsible: Eva Spörndly, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, SLU.

Only few protein feeds fulfil the requirements and rules for feeding in organic milk production and these feeds are often high in price and limited in supply. Starting 2008 organic milk producers in Sweden are required to supply the cows with 100% organically produced feed. As this feed is scarce on the market and holds a high price the new regulation makes it increasingly important for the organic producer to produce his/her own feed.

It is therefore important to investigate if today’s high quality roughage, combined with only cereals can offer an economically interesting production alternative for the organic milk producer compared to the current rations where the cereals are supplemented with a considerable amount of purchased organic protein supplements.

The research question was studied in an earlier experiment financed by SLU EkoForsk. This first experiment took place during 2010 with cows in early lactation and the preliminary results show that the cereal based diet gave a considerable drop in milk production compared with the diet that also included protein supplements. Production level was 31 and 35 kg energy corrected milk (ECM) in the cereal and protein supplemented diet, respectively. However, closer look at the results showed that the cereal based diet had a comparatively large drop in production in directly after experimental start and this phase was followed by a period when the production in the two treatments was fairly similar. 

This seems to indicate that the cereal based diet may be more advantageous when cows have passed the high production level in the early stage of lactation. The present project therefore has the objective to further explore the potential of a cereal based diet, especially after peak lactation.

It is hypothesised that:

  • 100% home grown diets with only cereals and high quality silage is economically interesting for organic milk producers compared with diets that also include protein supplements especially at production levels below 40 kg ECM.