Like their American counterparts, Swiss dairy farmers are questioning whether extremely large cows are productively efficient cows, according to a report by Bloomberg.
New Swiss Cow, a Swiss consulting group, says smaller cows are more efficient. Many Swiss cattle now top the scales at 800 kg (1,764 lb) and produce more than 16,000 lb of milk annually on a mainly forage-based diet. But their smaller herdmates, ranging in size from 1,100 to 1,300 lb, are producing 13,000 to 15,000 lb.
The smaller cows eat less feed but produce proportionately more milk. They also fit into tie stalls and freestalls more easily, and tend to have less health problems. The smaller cows also tend to be more agile and able to climb to and graze Switzerland’s alpine pastures, says Sandra Helfenstein, a spokesperson for the Swiss Farmers’ Union.
A drought in Europe this summer has also aggravated the problem. Many Swiss farmers have already brought their cows down from their mountain pastures due to dry conditions, and will be forced to purchase feed. That feed, in turn, is more expensive because of the drought.