Final Report for FNE98-197
The purpose of this demonstration project was to introduce dairy farmers to rotational grazing, or refine the skills of those already practicing it. Ten dairy farmers met together with their extension agents in Oneida County, NY, to learn about rotational grazing and draw up plans to implement it on their own farms. The extension agents visited the participating farms every week or two, to collect soil and plant samples, help set up paddocks and watering systems, and offer advice. The environmental as well as the economic benefits of rotational grazing were stressed, specifically, how soil testing and proper nutrient management can be used to minimize the adverse effects of dairy farming on surface and ground waters.
Seven of the participating farmers saw the project through to the end, and most of these kept records of milk production and expenses. These records, though somewhat patchy, show in all cases but one substantial savings in bedding, electricity, labor, veterinary care, and especially feed, by switching to rotational grazing. In the one exception, the data must be considered invalid because the farmer switched to a new feed program in the middle of the project.
A slump in milk production is commonly seen during mid-summer, as pasture growth rates slow down in the heat of July and August. The production data from this project however show no such slump, apparently because the rotational grazing system was able to provide a consistently good diet to the animals, and because particular attention was given to assuring a supply of water in each paddock.