Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Dairy management systems: overview

Contributor(s): Jonathan Statham , Mike Reynolds

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Introduction

  • Dairy production is achieved through a range of management systems around the world. These systems reflect a range of key factors including: regional climate conditions and environment, national and international markets and cultures, genetic profile of the herd, regional cropping and feeds available, labor and automation, farm infrastructure, as well as the motivations and needs of the dairy farmers who run them.
  • As such there are no ‘right or wrong’ systems of dairy production, although some are perhaps more appropriately suited to the particular conditions described above than others.
  • Dairy farming around the world essentially falls into two main systems, although these may be sub-divided:
    • Block calving system: usually sub-divided into Spring or Autumn- all cows aim to be calved within a 12 week window and get back in calf, peak in milk production and are dried off together . ‘Split calving’ systems are popular in the Southern Hemisphere; herds calve during two or three distinct times per year, often incorporating spring and autumn periods.
    • All year round calving system (AYR): cows calve all year round with no seasonal emphasis, and no period where the entire herd is dry. Inputs may vary from extensive herds mainly grazing to fully housed herds with very high yields
  • These systems are usually characterized by the level of input of feed, veterinary care and overall management into ‘High’ input or ‘Low’ input and similarly into ‘High’ or ‘Low’ output. Although block calving systems are often lower input and output than AYR this should not be assumed and is discussed below.

Spring block calving

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Autumn block calving

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All year round calving (AYR)

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Economic aspects of different systems

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Choosing the most appropriate system

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Summary

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

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