An attentive audience of 291 people came to the 2009 Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference, July 8-10, to hear researchers and farmers tell the advantages of management-intensive grazing. “The time for the idea has come,” says Ryan Milhollin, University of Missouri extension economist and meeting organizer.
In his welcome, University of Missouri Vice Provost for Extension Michael Ouart said a small investment in research and extension pays off in economic development for the state. As of 2008, pasture-based dairies contribute $87 million a year and sustain 777 jobs.
Michael Murphy, an Irish dairyman who has traveled the world looking at grazing dairy farms, says Missouri has an advantage. “The era of low-cost energy and low-cost grain is over. It is time for sustainable milk production,” he said.
In an after-dinner speech, Murphy said the idea for dairy grazing is simple: Reduce labor, reduce feed input, cut machinery costs and build low-cost dairy structures. He said the goal is not to produce maximum milk per cow, but optimum profit per farm. Mainly, that involves cutting costs to survive in an era of low milk prices.
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