Dairy cows that consumed 100% organic pasture forages produced less milk than supplemented cows. But they were more profitable because their feed costs were lower.

That research was conducted at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center. Milk production from pasture only was compared to pasture supplemented with 6 or 12 lbs/day of organic corn and minerals. The supplement was fed in a TMR of corn silage and haylage, with at least 30% of dry matter intake coming from organic pasture.

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In the season-long study, pasture-only cows produced an average 32 lbs/day of energy-corrected milk compared with 36.3 lbs/day for the low-grain-supplement group and 37.3 lbs/day for the high one. Cow body weights were similar for the three groups, but body condition scores were lower for unsupplemented cows.

Income over feed costs averaged $3.61/cow/day for the no-supplement group compared with $2.20 and 38¢/cow/day for low- and high-grain-supplement cows, respectively.

In addition, oleic, linolenic and m-3 fatty-acid levels were higher in milk from pasture-only cows.

“Results indicate that milk from cows that consume 100% pasture compared with pasture and TMR have fatty-acid profiles that may provide human health benefits,” the researchers wrote.

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