Zero grain dairy: Lessons learned from farm successes and disasters

Workshop on zero grain dairy farming at the annual meeting of the Northeast Pasture Consortium.

This workshop will feature information from the many zero grain farms I visited in the last few years.  Some of these farms are doing really well, others not so much. So I will try to summarize what factors seem to be contributing to these successes and failures.

While there are some farms successfully producing milk on zero grain rations, other farms have tried 100% grassfed dairy farming and encountered significant problems.  Farms seeing success with zero grain dairying planned ahead to be sure the lower levels of milk production would still allow the farm to do well economically.  They are also maximizing forage dry matter intake and providing mineral supplements using a variety of good management methods.  Many farms also had to adjust their stocking rates, and bring in additional soil fertility inputs.  Farms seeing long-term success with zero grain systems also monitor cow performance and well-being closely including milk production, MUNs, BCS and key measures of reproductive performance.