Grazing dairies economically competitive with confinement operations in Wisconsin
MADISON, Wisconsin: Dairy farmers using managed grazing (MiG) are economically competitive with confinement dairy operations according to a published University of Wisconsin/Madison financial analysis.
Tom Kriegl of the UW/Madison Center for Dairy Profitability said, “Farms using managed grazing produce less milk per cow on average than confinement farms.
“But these farms more than offset this production disadvantage through their control of operation expenses, investment and debt.”
Kriegl has been analyzing the financial performance of grazing dairy farms since 1995.
In a report entitled “Pastures of Plenty” he reported that in Wisconsin and New York, grazing dairies are more profitable per cow and per hundredweight of milk sold than confinement dairies in these states.
Farms using managed grazing consistently show higher profits and lower costs per hundredweight equivalent than traditional and large modern confinement farms in Wisconsin.
Managed grazing is different from continuous grazing in that farmer move their animals to fresh pasture on a regular basis and manage their pastures to maximize the quality and quantity of the feed. Continuous grazing does not provide such quality feed and so often provides little more than exercise.
“Managed grazing is economically competitive, probably at all sizes,” said Kriegl.
“A grazing dairy can provide a family with a good living from a farm that they can operate and manage themselves.”
© by The Stockman Grass Farmer
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