Managed grazing is an effective option for dairy farmers in Wisconsin. This system, which maximizes utilization of fresh pasture and focuses on reducing production costs, has potential to improve profitability of dairy operations of all sizes. Managed grazing is size‐neutral and flexible, a practice that can be adapted to any farming system. Dairies using managed grazing average 61 milking cows but range from over 1000 milking cows to under ten.
Managed grazing involves dividing up large pasture areas into small paddocks of a few acres and rotating the herd from one paddock to the next. Pasture productivity is often two or three times higher as a result of the rest period provided between grazing events in each paddock. Under rotational management, pasture nutritional quality is as good as or better than prime hay. The substitution of pasture harvested by the cow for mechanically harvested feeds can reduce production costs significantly.
This report summarizes recent surveys of dairy producers using managed grazing. Two sources were used for the study. The first is the 2007 Census of Agriculture. The second data source was an original survey the authors designed and sent out in partnership with the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service in early winter, 2010.