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Modelling Pasture-based Automatic Milking System Herds: System Fitness of Grazeable Home-grown Forages, Land Areas and Walking Distances

  • Islam, M.R. (Dairy Science Group, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Garcia, S.C. (Dairy Science Group, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Clark, C.E.F. (Dairy Science Group, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Kerrisk, K.L. (Dairy Science Group, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney)
  • Received : 2014.05.21
  • Accepted : 2014.10.25
  • Published : 2015.06.01

Abstract

To maintain a predominantly pasture-based system, the large herd milked by automatic milking rotary would be required to walk significant distances. Walking distances of greater than 1-km are associated with an increased incidence of undesirably long milking intervals and reduced milk yield. Complementary forages can be incorporated into pasture-based systems to lift total home grown feed in a given area, thus potentially 'concentrating' feed closer to the dairy. The aim of this modelling study was to investigate the total land area required and associated walking distance for large automatic milking system (AMS) herds when incorporating complementary forage rotations (CFR) into the system. Thirty-six scenarios consisting of 3 AMS herds (400, 600, 800 cows), 2 levels of pasture utilisation (current AMS utilisation of 15.0 t dry matter [DM]/ha, termed as moderate; optimum pasture utilisation of 19.7 t DM/ha, termed as high) and 6 rates of replacement of each of these pastures by grazeable CFR (0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%) were investigated. Results showed that AMS cows were required to walk greater than 1-km when the farm area was greater than 86 ha. Insufficient pasture could be produced within a 1 km distance (i.e. 86 ha land) with home-grown feed (HGF) providing 43%, 29%, and 22% of the metabolisable energy (ME) required by 400, 600, and 800 cows, respectively from pastures. Introduction of pasture (moderate): CFR in AMS at a ratio of 80:20 can feed a 400 cow AMS herd, and can supply 42% and 31% of the ME requirements for 600 and 800 cows, respectively with pasture (moderate): CFR at 50:50 levels. In contrast to moderate pasture, 400 cows can be managed on high pasture utilisation (provided 57% of the total ME requirements). However, similar to the scenarios conducted with moderate pasture, there was insufficient feed produced within 1-km distance of the dairy for 600 or 800 cows. An 800 cow herd required 140 and 130 ha on moderate and high pasture-based AMS system, respectively with the introduction of pasture: CFR at a ratio of 50:50. Given the impact of increasing land area past 86 ha on walking distance, cow numbers could be increased by purchasing feed from off the milking platform and/or using the land outside 1-km distance for conserved feed. However, this warrants further investigations into risk analyses of different management options including development of an innovative system to manage large herds in an AMS farming system.

Keywords

Automatic Milking System;Complementary Forage Rotations;Herd Size;Walking Distance;Grazeable Home-Grown Forages

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