Producing milk from grazing to reconcile economic and environmental performances

J.L. Peyraud, A. van den Pol, P. Dillon, L. Delaby

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademic


Several reports, directives, regulations and initiatives challenge high-input dairy systems at the environmental level. At the same time the dairy sector has to adapt to a greater volatility of prices and to the projected increase in energy and fertiliser prices. In this new context, it should be considered whether the model of development based on intensification, often in connection with the reduction in the use of grazing, is always well adapted. Dairy systems that maximise grass utilisation appear to be highly competitive and the various roles of grassland in providing regulating and supporting services are now widely recognized. Thus grassland should form the basis of more sustainable dairy systems in the future, provided technical innovations are produced to improve the efficiency of grassland-based dairy systems. Innovations in forage production, innovations in characteristics of the cows and management of lactations, as well as innovations in the management of the system have potential for increasing economic and environmental performances of grassland-based systems. The more systematic use of legume forages in multi-species swards makes it possible to reduce the consumption of mineral N, to reduce the carbon footprint of the dairy system, to regularize the forage production over the year and to increase the nutritional quality of the forages. It clearly appears that intensive selection for milk based on high concentrate diets has generally resulted in genotypes that are not well suited for systems maximising forage utilisation. In these systems there needs to be a special focus to address fertility, survival and other functional traits such as mastitis resistance, although high genetic merit for milk should be maintained to produce efficient responses to concentrate supply. Finally, extending the grazing season with early turnout or late grazing, and tactical use of grazing in association with conserved forages in large herds, offers many opportunities to reduce the requirement of expensive conserved forage and to reduce the utilisation of purchased feeds. All these potential sources of progress are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication23th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation, Kiel, Germany, 29 august - 02 September, 2010
EditorsH. Schnyder, J. Isselstein, F. Taube, K. Auerswald, J. Schellberg, M. Wachendorf, A. Herrmann, M. Gierus, N. Wrage, A. Hopkins
Place of PublicationZürich, Switzerland
PublisherEuropean Grassland Federation EGF
ISBN (Print)9783869440200
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event23th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation -
Duration: 29 Aug 20102 Sep 2010


Conference23th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Producing milk from grazing to reconcile economic and environmental performances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this