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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 425232
Title Sustainability evaluation of automatic and conventional milking systems on organic dairy farms in Denmark
Author(s) Oudshoorn, F.W.; Kristensen, T.; Zijpp, A.J. van der; Boer, I.J.M. de
Source NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 59 (2012)1-2. - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 25 - 33.
Department(s) Animal Production Systems
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2012
Keyword(s) egg-production systems - indicators - cows - management - frequency - impact
Abstract Organic dairy farmers in Denmark currently are implementing automatic milking systems (AMS) to save labour costs. As organic agriculture aims at sustainable production, the introduction of a new technology such as AMS should be evaluated regarding its economic viability, environmental impact, and social acceptability, i.e., its contribution to sustainable development. The objective of this research, therefore, was to evaluate sustainability of AMS use on organic dairy farms in Denmark, by comparing results of a set of sustainability indicators for nine farms using AMS with nine farms using conventional milking systems (CMS). Sustainability indicators were quantified for economic performance of the farm, on-farm eutrophication, on-farm biodiversity, animal welfare (including health), grazing time, milk composition and labour time. Milk yield per cow per year was higher for AMS farms (9021 kg energy corrected milk [ECM] per cow per year) than for CMS farms (7664 kg ECM), but did not result in a higher net profit or gross margin per cow for AMS farms. Nitrogen surplus per hectare of available land was higher for AMS farms (110 kg N ha-1) than for CMS farms (66 kg N ha-1). This difference was not due to the use of AMS but was caused by a higher export of manure by the CMS farms. The number of veterinary treatments per cow per year was unaffected by AMS use, but culling rate was higher for the AMS farms (38%) than for the CMS farms (32%). There was no difference between the AMS and CMS farms in milk composition indicators such as somatic cell count, clostridium spores, and urea. The acid degree value (ADV), measuring free fatty acids (FFA) in the milk, was higher in the milk from the AMS farms (0.78 meq l-l) compared with the CMS farms (0.49 meq l-l). Labour time measured in hours of work per dairy cow per day, was only half for the AMS compared with the CMS users; i.e., 2.3 min per cow per day. Grass intake by grazing as percentage of total feed intake was reduced by AMS (5.1 kg DM per cow per day for the AMS farms against 6.8 kg DM per cow per day for the CMS farms). From this quantification of selected sustainability indicators it can be concluded that organic dairy farms using AMS, in spite of the substantial decrease in grazing time, show the potential of economic and environmental sustainable development within the range of herd sizes investigated (65–157 cows per farm). Even though the lower number of grazing hours per cow per year on the AMS farms did not affect indicator scores for animal health or milk quality, this reduction in grazing hours might be a problem for consumers to accept AMS use
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