The case for grazing dairy cows

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Wilkinson, J. M., Chamberlain, A. T. and Rivero, M. J. 2021. The case for grazing dairy cows. Agronomy. 11 (12), p. 2466.

AuthorsWilkinson, J. M., Chamberlain, A. T. and Rivero, M. J.

The case for grazing dairy cows at pasture is reviewed in six categories: i) Optimal land use for food production; ii) Soil carbon sequestration; iii) Carbon footprint; iv) Animal health and welfare; v) Effects on human health of milk produced from grazed pasture; vi) Consumer demand for milk from grazed cows. Land best-suited to grazing is uncultivatable peaty soil receiving relatively low levels of fertilisation. With soil carbon sequestration, carbon footprint is lower for grazing than for other systems of milk production. Some indices of animal health and welfare (e.g. lameness, status of hock integument) are influenced positively by extent of grazing. Benefits to human health may accrue from higher levels of essential amino acids, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid in milk from cows given pasture compared to diets based on silage and concentrates. Milk producers, processors and supermarkets are responding to consumer demand for milk and milk products from cows given access to pasture during the grazing season. The major constraint to milk production from grazing is energy intake. Research opportunities to address this constraint include application of remote sensing and artificial intelligence to grazing management

KeywordsMilk production; Soil healt; Carbon sequestration; Animal welfare; Human health
Year of Publication2021
Journal citation11 (12), p. 2466
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Innovate UK
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 2 (WP2) - Adaptive management systems for improved efficiency and nutritional quality
The use of GPS tracking and the LoRaWAN network to improve productivity of grazing dairy cows
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online03 Dec 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted01 Dec 2021

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