Make the Most of Grass to make UK Dairy LeaderBy Jonathan Long

UK DAIRY producers are the best positioned in the world to have a profitable future, but they must maximise grazed grass use in order to achieve sustainable profits, according to a New Zealand born dairy consultant working in the UK.

 Paul Kane told British Grassland Society winter roadshow delegates at Cirencester that, with access to large markets just on their doorstep and land and variable costs as low as in New Zealand, the future was bright for UK milk production.

“But more use must be made of grazed grass. It is the cheapest form of energy and protein available to cows. Also, pasture-based systems require little investment in machinery, labour and bought-in feeds.”

Physical changes on farm mean grazing systems are becoming more of a reality, with block calving herds, improved infrastructure, such as cow tracks and water supplies and rotational grazing. “All of these developments mean grass can become a more integral part of cow diets year round,” he explained.

Grazed grass systems mean cows need housing for shorter periods of time, with some UK herds cutting housing down to just two months a year, reckoned Mr Kane. “This reduces purchased feed costs, by about 2p a litre, as well as reducing power and machinery costs by a similar amount. “

Farms I’m working with are profiting and expanding, but the focus has to be on farm profit not milk yield.”

Overall the future for grass-based dairying is bright, he said. “The opportunities available to grass-based dairy producers are as great here as anywhere in the world,” he added.