Complementary forages - integration at a whole-farm level
Rawnsley, RP and Chapman, DF and Jacobs, JL and Garcia, SC and Callow, MN and Edwards, GR and Pembleton, KG, Complementary forages - integration at a whole-farm level, Animal Production Science, 53, (9) pp. 976-987. ISSN 1836-0939 (2013) [Refereed Article]
Ahigh proportion of the Australian and New Zealand dairy industry is based on a relatively simple, low input and low cost pasture feedbase. These factors enable this type of production system to remain internationally competitive.
However, a key limitation of pasture-based dairy systems is periodic imbalances between herd intake requirements and pastureDMproduction, caused by strong seasonality and high inter-annual variation in feed supply. This disparity can be moderated to a certain degree through the strategic management of the herd through altering calving dates and stocking rates, and the feedbase by conserving excess forage and irrigating to flatten seasonal forage availability. Australasian dairy systems are experiencing emerging market and environmental challenges, which includes increased competition for
land and water resources, decreasing terms of trade, a changing and variable climate, an increasing environmental focus that requires improved nutrient and water-use efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The integration of
complementary forages has long been viewed as a means to manipulate the home-grown feed supply, to improve the nutritive value and DM intake of the diet, and to increase the efficiency of inputs utilised. Only recently has integrating
complementary forages at the whole-farm system level received the significant attention and investment required to examine their potential benefit. Recent whole-of-farm research undertaken in both Australia and New Zealand has
highlighted the importance of understanding the challenges of the current feedbase and the level of complementarity between forage types required to improve profit, manage risk and/or alleviate/mitigate against adverse outcomes. This paper reviews the most recent systems-level research into complementary forages, discusses approaches to modelling their integration at the whole-farm level and highlights the potential of complementary forages to address the major
challenges currently facing pasture-based dairy systems.