SLU news

Organic feeding plan can give as much milk as conventional

Published: 19 December 2012

An organic feeding plan with up to 70 percent roughage gives as much milk as a feeding plan with 50 percent roughage. Moreover, the profitability gets better. This has Mikaela Patel proved in her thesis, presented at her dissertation on December 12.

During two years, Mikaela followed a total of 92 dairy cows. The first three months, the proportion of roughage was constant. Then it was increased gradually over the lactation up to a maximum of 50, 70 or 90 percent dry matter in the latter part of the lactation.

- Today is the settlement price on milk is low, while concentrate prices are high. This leads to low profitability for the producer, and it may be uneconomical to provide high levels of concentrates, says Mikaela.

She also found positive effects on the fatty acid content in the milk with an increased proportion of silage. But when the cows got up to 90 percent roughage the milk yield decreased.

- If the silage has a high nutrient content, which we today have excellent opportunities for, high levels of concentrate in the diet isn’t necessary, says Mikaela.

- The roughage is much better today than 30–40 years ago, and although the cows produce more milk, they can do it with large proportions of high quality roughage in the feeding plans. The cows are designed to eat grass, so eating more roughage also improves their well-being, says Mikaela.