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Last updated: Saturday, 14-Mar-2009 19:10:29 Central Daylight Time


UW-RF Receives Dairy Herd Research Grant
By Sarah Matara
UW-RF News Bureau

Two UW-River Falls professors from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences have received a $135,000 grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program in the United States Department of Agriculture, to conduct a three-year study and demonstration project on feed and nutrient intake on eight grazing dairy farms in Wisconsin.

Agronomy Professor Dennis Cosgrove and dairy science Professor Dennis Cooper have worked with the USDA on feed and forage projects before, in the countries of Romania, Ukraine, and Serbia.

Their goal for this project is to develop accurate nutrient management plans for grazing dairy farms because there is not much specific grazing data available, according to Cosgrove. Cosgrove and Cooper will study feed intake by grazing cattle and develop a nutrient management plan to manage manure as a nutrient. They will estimate manure production and the amount of nutrients it contains by studying milk production and nutrient intake from pasture grazing.

Cooper said the project will help farmers with grazing cattle by giving them specific grazing data. Feed intake and milk production for dairy cows on a pasture is often lower that for cows in confinement. Therefore, the amount of manure production by grazing cows is likely lower. Having this information would enable more accurate nutrient management plans to be developed for grazing dairy farms.

They will determine the amount of manure produced and the nutrients present in it to make sure there is no more than the plants can use. If there is too much nitrogen present, it can leak into the ground water and pollute it. If there is too much phosphorous, it will pollute surface runoff water that goes into lakes and rivers. Rotational grazing is used because if offers a better pasture yield. Pastures used for grazing are rotated on a regular basis between being used and resting, he said. Phosphorous and nitrogen are also taken off of a farm as nutrients present in milk, sold livestock and agricultural products.

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