Differences in feeding practices on organic and conventional dairy farms - data from a farm network

More than half of the methane (CH4) emissions in Germany can be attributed to enteric fermentation of dairy cattle. Enteric CH4 production is influenced by feedstuff quality. In a network of 44 dairy farms the mean diets of the dairy cows differed considerably between organic and conventional farms and between regions. Feeding also proved to be very farm specific. On average, organic dairy cows received significantly less concentrates (13.9 % of the total diet on a dry matter basis) and maize silage (7.2 %) and more pasture (29.5 %) and hay (11.8 %) than conventional dairy cows (24.1, 30.9, 5.5, and 3.1 %). No difference was found between organic and conventional feedstuff quality. Since hay produces relatively more and concentrates produce relatively less CH4, organic dairy cows are, on average, expected to release slightly more enteric CH4 per kg fermentable organic matter than conventional ones.



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