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Comparing irrigated biodynamic and conventionally managed dairy farms. 2. Milk production and composition and animal health


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Burkitt, LL, Wales, WJ, McDonald, JW, Small, DR and Jenkin, ML 2007 , 'Comparing irrigated biodynamic and conventionally managed dairy farms. 2. Milk production and composition and animal health' , Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, vol. 47 , pp. 489-494 , doi: 10.1071/EA06085.

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Ten paired irrigated dairy farms under biodynamic (BD) and conventional (CV) management were compared
over a 3-year period (1991–93). The paired farms were located in the irrigation districts of northern Victoria and southern
New South Wales and were matched for soil type, cattle breed and farm area. The BD farms practised BD principles for
an average of 16 years before the study. The effects of farm management on milk yields and composition and animal health
were examined by annually surveying farm managers regarding disease incidence and chemical treatment of animals, and
by measuring milk yield and composition and faecal egg counts over the experimental period. The two hypotheses tested
were that (1) milk volume and milk solids per cow would be lower under BD management, and (2) the incidence of internal
parasitic infection and disease would be lower under CV management.
Milk production and milk components produced, both on a per hectare and per cow basis, were 24–36% higher
(P < 0.01) under CV management, due to significantly higher pasture intakes (P < 0.001). Although the incidence of
parasitic infection was similar for mature cows, CV farms consistently used a greater number of chemical treatments
(P < 0.05). Although BD heifer calves <8 months in age had significantly (P < 0.05) higher faecal egg counts, the results
highlight the risk of reduced growth rates in calves due to high rates of parasite infection, under both management systems.
Somatic cell counts were higher (P < 0.05) under BD management, with this being consistent with the use of significantly
less chemical treatments under this management system. The implications of these findings for both CV and BD
management for milk production and animal health are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Burkitt, LL and Wales, WJ and McDonald, JW and Small, DR and Jenkin, ML
Keywords: bloat, mastitis, reproduction
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
ISSN: 0816-1089
DOI / ID Number: 10.1071/EA06085
Additional Information:

Copyright © 2007 CSIRO.

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