Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
REVIEW (Open Access)

Challenges of feeding dairy cows in Australia and New Zealand

W. J. Wales A C and E. S. Kolver B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Ellinbank, Vic. 3821, Australia.

B DairyNZ, Private Bag 3221, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand.

C Corresponding author. Email: bill.wales@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Animal Production Science 57(7) 1366-1383 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN16828
Submitted: 21 December 2016  Accepted: 5 April 2017   Published: 19 May 2017

Abstract

There is a continuing evolution of feeding systems in both Australian and New Zealand dairy industries and this presents challenges for the future. Since the turn of the century, the two countries have diverged in industry growth characteristics, with Australian dairying having contracted, with 10% less milk being produced because of 20% fewer cows producing 15% more per cow, whereas New Zealand dairying has expanded, producing 83% more milk driven by a 54% increase in cow numbers and a 31% increase in milk production per cow. Solutions to optimise feed efficiency included the common themes of (1) growing more forage on farm, (2) increasing its utilisation and (3) more efficient use of supplements resulting in increases in DM intake, and they remain relevant. In New Zealand, many of the recent research activities have aimed at improving feed supply while limiting environmental impacts driven by increasing societal concern surrounding the environmental footprint of a growing and intensifying agricultural sector. In Australia, many of the recent research activities have aimed at improving feed efficiency, with a focus on understanding situations where partial mixed ration feeding systems (Australian Farm Systems 3 and 4) are sustainable. Simply growing more feed on farm can no longer be a sole objective; farms must be operated with a view to reduce the environmental footprint, with New Zealand dairy farmers increasingly needing to farm within nitrogen limits. The present review revisits and reinforces many of the concepts developed in previous reviews, but also examines the evolution of feeding systems in both countries and opportunities to improve feed efficiency and profit, while satisfying public expectations around environmental stewardship. We also identify some of the gaps in the current knowledge that warrant further research.

Additional keywords: feeding systems, grazing, intake, milk response.


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