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Choosing the best forage species for a dairy farm: The Whole-farm approach

Mark Neal (), James Neal and Bill Fulkerson
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James Neal: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries
Bill Fulkerson: Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney

No WP7M06, Murray-Darling Program Working Papers from Risk and Sustainable Management Group, University of Queensland

Abstract: Although a handful of forage species such as perennial ryegrass are predominant, there are a wide range of forage species that can be grown in sub tropical and temperate regions in Australia as dairy pastures. These species have differing seasonal yields, nutrient quality and water use efficiency characteristics, as demonstrated in a large study evaluating 30 species University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Some species can be grazed, while others require mechanical harvesting that incurs a further cost. Previous comparisons of species that relied on yields of dry matter per unit of some input (typically land or water) cannot simultaneously take into account the season in which forage is produced, or other factors related to the costs of production and delivery to the cows. To effectively compare the profitability of individual species, or combinations of species, requires the use of a whole-farm model. Linear programming was used to find the most profitable mix of forage species for an irrigated dairy farm in an irrigation region of New South Wales, Australia. It was concluded that a typical farmer facing the prevailing milk and purchased feed prices with average milk production per cow would find a mix of species including large proportions of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and prairie grass (Bromus willdenowii) was most profitable. The result was robust to changes in seasonal milk pricing and moving from year round to seasonal calving patterns.

Keywords: Dairy; Forage; Whole-farm; Linear programming (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C61 Q12 Q52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2006-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr
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