Animal Factors Condition Milk Performance and Quality of Grazing Dairy Cows

Document Type : Review Article


Centro de Investigaciones Agrarias de Mabegondo, INGACAL, Apdo, 10-15080, La Coruna, Spain


The base of this review is to consider the relevant role that animal factors (potential milk yield, body weight, body condition score, state of lactation, parity and fertility) play on milk performance (considering the energy balance and the rumen function across the full lactation curve of animals) and milk quality (milk protein content, milk fat content, milk lactose content, vitamins, minerals, immunoglobulins, cells in milk, pathogenic bacteria and inhibitors) of grazing dairy cows (taking into account the substitution rate and the milk response at pasture of animals under different supplementation regimes). All this, looking for high individual milk production and paying attention to grassland management as the key point for sustainability of grazing dairy systems in order to maintain high pasture dry matter intake in the swards with high grass quality (high pasture levels of crude protein, water soluble carbohydrates and digestibility of organic matter but low pasture levels of acid and neutral detergent fibers) all over the grazing season to satisfy cow needs at all times thought the lactation curve of dairy cows. It is also necessary to consider the use of supplementation at pasture (normally at the peak of lactation, when cows are generally in a state of negative energy balance and the provision of silage / concentrate can help to alleviate this situation) to keep the animals within the desired levels of milk production. It seeks, thereby, to achieve an efficient conversion of grass into milk, in a competitive and profitable way taking into consideration the current context in which pasture-based milk production systems are developed in mostly of temperate regions worldwide and focusing our interest in the milk premium price got by dairy farmers in a humid area as Galicia (NW Spain)when we consider the quantity and the quality of the milk delivered to the dairy industry.


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