Grazing systems and feed supplementation


  • A.M. Van Vuuren
  • A. Van den Pol-van Dasselaar


Dairy farmers may choose one of four grazing management and feeding systems: unrestricted stocking, restricted stocking during the day, zero-grazing using fresh grass or zero-grazing using ensiled grass. In their choice, farmers may incorporate their opinion towards economics, animal welfare, society and environment. When fed on grass only, a maximum dry-matter intake of 110 to 120 g (kg body weight)-0.75 can be expected. This will cover energy and protein requirements for maintenance and 22 to 28 kg of milk. For higher production levels, supplements are required. For well managed grasslands, supplements with a high proportion of rumen-available carbohydrates are preferred, such as maize silage and sugar-beet pulp. To control energy and protein intake, farmers can use restricted or zero-grazing. Thus the rise in productivity in dairy cattle has reduced the number of farmers that use unrestricted stocking. We expect this development to be continued in the next decade