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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Profitability of organic and conventional dairy production with different dietary proportions of high-quality grass silage

Patel, Mikaela; Wredle, Ewa; Spörndly, Eva; Bertilsson, Jan; Kumm, Karl-Ivar

Abstract

The profitability in organic and conventional milk production systems when using three different dietary proportions (51 %, 62 % and 69 % of dry matter) of high-quality grass silage to dairy cows was calculated. Feed intake and milk production data were measured in a dairy cow experiment in which the same types of feeds were used over the entire lactation, but the proportion of forage was increased to three different degrees in the diet. The results of the economic analyses showed that full cost coverage was only reached within the organic production system and that a large herd size (160 cows) was required to achieve economically sustainable dairy production. However, large herd size required large pasture areas in organic production, which can be difficult to achieve in forest-dominated districts. The results of the calculated profitability showed that it was profitable to increase the average dietary proportion of high-quality silage from 51 % to 62 % of dry matter in conventional production with concentrate and grain prices at their current high levels. In organic production, there were only minor differences in calculated profitability between providing the obligatory 60 % and 69 % of dry matter as high-quality silage in the dairy cow diet.

Published in

Organic Agriculture
2013, Volume: 3, number: 1, pages: 31-39