Fill Their Rumens, Get More Milk

A: Low Density Pasture = Less Intake

Low Density Pasture

 

B: High Density Pasture = More Intake

Dense spring pasture

Well-managed pasture can be high quality forage, when the stand is dense, at least 6-8 inches tall, and a mix of grasses, legumes, and herbs. To maintain a pasture-based dairy ration, dry matter intake from pasture must remain high. When this intake is limited, milk production decreases. So what influences how much pasture forage an animal will consume? For starters, a high plant density in the pasture leads to higher intake because the animals don’t have to spend time walking around and nibbling for forage. Instead, they can stand in one spot, taking several bites from a diversity of plants before moving on. With each bite, the cow will be grabbing large mouthfuls of pasture plants. This equates to more rapid rumen fill. Why is this important? There is a limit to how much time a cow will spend grazing each day. Cows also need time for rest and rumination. The less energy a cow has to expend finding food, the better. If she can only take so many bites per day, then those bites need to be as full as possible. Ideally, ruminants will be provided with an abundant, nutrient-dense ‘salad’ each time they go out to graze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like to get from A to B to maximize your pasture potential? With funding from NRCS, resources are available NOW for grazing system planning. If you would like assistance developing a grazing management plan, contact Cheryl Cesario at 388-4969 x 346.

Profile photo of Cheryl Cesario

Author: Cheryl Cesario

Cheryl is the team’s grazing specialist. She works with farmers to get the most out their pastures…balancing the needs of people, plants, animals, and water quality. She prepares grazing plans for beef, dairy and other livestock producers, setting up these farms to be as profitable as possible while utilizing one of Vermont’s best crops…Pasture! Cheryl graduated with a degree in Animal Science from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s degree from the University of Vermont in Plant and Soil Science. Her agricultural experiences include vegetable farm and greenhouse management, seasonal orchard work, and relief milking on dairy farms. She and her husband Marc graze cows, pigs and chickens at their farm, Meeting Place Pastures, in Cornwall, VT. They direct market their meat and eggs to families and restaurants across New England.