The economic and environmental performance of grazing and zero-grazing systems in a post-quota era

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Grazing of dairy cattle is decreasing in the Netherlands. This trend is associated with an increase in use of automatic milking systems, herd size and stocking rate. To maintain grazing, more knowledge is required on grazing strategies for future dairy farms. Therefore, we need insight into the economic and environmental consequences of grazing and zero-grazing systems for future dairy farms. A whole-farm linear programming model based on the objective to maximize labour income was used to evaluate the economic consequences of grazing and zero-grazing systems for a Dutch dairy farm using automatic milking after abolishment of the milk quota. In addition, life cycle assessment was used to calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per ton fat-and-protein-corrected milk (FPCM) for each system. We modelled a dairy farm on sandy soil with 75 hectares of land and compared day and night grazing, day grazing and summerfeeding. Day grazing resulted in the highest labour income (€69,444 per year), followed by day and night grazing (€66,909 per year), and summerfeeding (€46,760 per year). The lower income in case of summerfeeding related mainly to higher feed costs compared to the two grazing systems. Summerfeeding resulted in the lowest GHG emissions per ton FPCM (1002 kg CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq)), followed by day grazing (1096 kg CO2-eq), and day and night grazing (1214 kg CO2-eq). Results indicate that grazing can contribute to higher economic performance of future dairy farms. To utilize the full economic potential of grazing while at the same time minimize GHG emissions, further fine tuning of grazing strategies is necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 66th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Print)9789086862696
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventEAAP - 66th Annual Meeting 2015 - Warsaw, Poland
Duration: 31 Aug 20154 Sept 2015


ConferenceEAAP - 66th Annual Meeting 2015


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