No. 6 · December 2006

Research proposals

Many applications from large consortia

Evaluation of proposals

How are proposals selected for funding?

Notes & correspondences

On current events and activities

EU research

News from EU research activities

Around Europe

An overview of current topics in partner countries


Around Europe

Low-Input Grazing System for Dairy Cows in Organic Farming in Austria

Since 2004, HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein (Agricultural Research & Education Centre, Institute of Organic Farming) has been monitoring and assessing in a 4-year research project the low-input seasonal grass-based pasture system (beginning of May – end of October) at seven dairy cattle farms in the alpine region of Austria.

Continuous-grazing farms aim at implementing a location-adjusted low-cost and low-input strategy. Everything expensive is dispensed with as far as possible. Peak performances per animal are deliberately not strived for. Farm-owned feedstuff is to be converted into milk as efficiently as possible. The general aim is to achieve an as high as possible pasture grazing portion with regard to the total annual feeding ration. In doing so, the grazing management is of high relevance. With optimal and location-adjusted utilisation, graze from pasture has a very high potential and, furthermore, is the most inexpensive feedstuff.

To achieve the best possible way of utilisation, farms with a seasonal grass-based pasture system try – by means of a cumulative spring calving season (January to April depending on the farm) - to synchronize the lactation course with the vegetation period. Consequently, conserved fodder as well as concentrated feed can be used in smaller amounts than usually. In addition, costs for buildings and machinery are minimized purposefully and consistently.

For the first experimental year (1 October 2004 – 30 September 2005), a pasture graze proportion of 35-60 % in the total feeding ration per year could be determined, depending on the farm. Some farms completely dispensed with concentrated feed during the grazing period. This is possible because with constant grazing the grass remains in a very early growing stage and shows high energy values (6.0 6.9 MJ NEL).

Concerning the contents of milk, decreasing percentages of fat and protein as well as increasing urea content could be observed during the grazing period.

Problems with parasites on the pasture occurred only on one farm. As a consequence, a treatment against the lungworm had to be carried out there.

So far, the project farms have reached an average value of 0.26 € of payments free of direct charge per kg milk. This value is slightly higher than the Austrian average.

In the future, the plant stock development on pastures will be observed in more detail and potential changes will be documented. Additionally, the nitrogen flows will also be recorded.

The project will go on until 2008. For further information please contact the project leaders and