Thought this report might interest you!
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Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 13:32:24 -0600 (CST)
From: DOUGLAS JACKSON-SMITH 608-265-2953 <DSMITH@ssc.wisc.edu>
Subject: Annct: Report Available on Grazing in Wisconsin (LONG)
Our institute recently issued a report on the performance and use of
management intensive rotational grazing among Wisconsin dairy farms.
While many of you may already have recieved copies of this report
from us directly, I thought I would forward a copy of a recent press
release that was written about our work to members of this list.
There is information about how to contact us for copies of either
the full report (Grazing in Dairyland: The Use and Performance of
Management Intensive Rotational Grazing on Wisconsin Dairy Farms) or
a short summary at the bottom of this press release.
Douglas Jackson-Smith, Associate Scientist
Agricultural Technology and Family Farm Institute
MORE WISCONSIN DAIRY FARMERS ARE STICKING TO PASTURE AND SKIPPING
The use of pastures on Wisconsin dairy farms has increased
dramatically in recent years. Based on a series of extensive statewide
surveys, UW-Madison researchers estimate that almost half of the dairy farms
in Wisconsin now use pastures to some degree, and the number of farms using
management-intensive rotational grazing (MIRG) practices, a system in which
milking cows get most of their forage requirements from pastures during the
grazing season, has doubled in recent years.
According to Douglas Jackson-Smith, a researcher with the Agricultural
Technology and Family Farm Institute at UW-Madison's College of Agricultural
and Life Sciences, between 1992 and 1994, MIRG operations doubled to nearly
4,000 farms, or roughly 14 percent of all dairy farms, and their numbers
continue to grow.
Graziers say the virtues of grass-based dairy farming include reduced
input costs and lower capital investments, along with reduced labor
requirements, better quality of family life, and reduced environmental
MIRG farms apear to be economically competitive with other dairy farm
types, according to Jackson-Smith. MIRG farms typically have lower levels of
milk production than confinement farms. However, MIRG farmers report lower
input costs, lower and more flexible labor needs, and improved herd health
than more traditional confinement dairy farms. Since graziers generally have
lower investments in machinery and buildings, the average financial returns to
investments are actually higher among graziers than non-graziers.
Total farm income on MIRG farms is lower than on confinement farms
because MIRG dairy herds tend to be smaller. However, total household income
of MIRG farms was comparable to that of conventional farms. The lower farm
income on MIRG farms was often compensated for by higher off-farm income,
according to Jackson-Smith.
Compared with confinement farmers, MIRG operators say they are more
likely to expand their milking herds. This could reflect greater optimism on
the part of graziers. It also reflects the fact that MIRG farms are smaller
than conventional operations. Younger farmers on smaller farms are
particularly likely to expand, Jackson-Smith notes.
The study concludes that while MIRG farms could increasingly shape the
performance of Wisconsin's dairy sector and related industries, grazing's
current impact on milk production is small. However, if MIRG continues to
spread, its impact will become more significant.
For example, some say that unless MIRG farms increase in size or
productivity, the further spread of MIRG could limit future growth in the
supply of milk for Wisconsin's cheese factories and other dairy processing
plants. On the other hand, grazing could allow producers to enter or stay in
business who would otherwise not have been milking cows, making MIRG a
cornerstone of the future Wisconsin dairy sector. MIRG farms have different
input and information requirements than confinement farms. This will affect
demand for the services of dairy cooperatives, input suppliers and university
FOR COPIES OF THE REPORT:
Copies of the full 64-page report (Grazing in Dairyland: The Use and
Performance of MIRG on Wisconsin Dairy Farms), or a 6-page summary of
the findings, are available upon request. Contact Nancy Carlisle:
phone: (608) 265-2908
fax: (608) 265-3020
U.S. mail: 1450 Linden Drive, Room 146, UW-Madison, Madison, WI 53706
TO DISCUSS THE RESEARCH WITH THE AUTHORS OR FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact Douglas Jackson-Smith:
phone: (608) 265-2953
fax: (608) 265-3020
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT OTHER RECENT PUBLICATIONS OF THE AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY
AND FAMILY FARM INSTITUTE, VISIT OUR WEB PAGE AT:
PS from MG-S--The press release was written by UW-Madison's Ag Press
Service. Contact author Bob Cooney (email@example.com) if
you'd like to know more about UW-Madison College of Ag activities on
grazing that he has covered or related topics.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
Drink up, dreamers; you're running dry.