Managing a grazing system for a milking dairy herd

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Editor’s note:  The following information is an excerpt from an article written by Donna Amaral-Phillips, Dairy Extension Specialist at University of Kentucky. It is the latest of a series on emerging nutrition topics facing dairy producers.  

Allowing dairy cows to graze forages versus harvesting and storing them can be a very economical means of providing some or all of a dairy cows’ forage needs.  For a grazing herd, the amount of grazed forage consumed can vary greatly depending on herd size, pasture acreage, growing conditions, and/or the time of year. 

Grazing forages for the milking dairy herd is nothing new.   It has been practiced for years, but what has changed over time are some of the forage management practices. 

For profitable milk production, proper management of the pasture is essential.  Pastures must be managed so that lactating cows consume extremely high quality (highly digestible, low to moderate concentrations of fiber and high concentrations of protein). 

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