The aim of this study was to compare barn-keeping (BK) to pasture-based-keeping (PK) systems in dairy farming. We established two herds which were kept under the same conditions and with an equal agricultural area (AA) on the same experimental farm from 2008 to 2010. The BK herd consisted of 12 Swiss Holstein-Friesian and 12 Brown Swiss cows which were kept in a free-stall barn and fed with a part-mixed ration composed of maize silage, grass silage and protein concentrate. They were allocated 15.8 ha AA [therefore 42.9 % grass silage, 18.3 % maize silage, 8.9 % cereals (energy concentrate), 18.4 % area for protein concentrate, 5.8 % pasture, 5.8 % extensive grassland (hay)]. The concentrate was fed by a concentrate dispenser according to the requirements of each individual cow. BK cows produced 9,607 kg of energy-corrected milk (ECM) per lactation and 675,4 kg of milk fat and protein per standard lactation having been fed 1,094 kg of air-dried concentrate. The PK herd consisted of 14 Swiss Fleckvieh and 14 Brown Swiss cows which were kept in a free-stall barn during winter time and on a semi-continuous pasture subdivided into four paddocks during the vegetation period. They were allocated 15.7 ha AA [therefore 87.2 % pasture and hay land, 5,8 % cereals, 1,0 % area for protein concentrate, 5,8 % extensive grassland (hay)]. Winter hay, harvested from the same pasture and later barn ventilated, were offered ad libitum in the indoor period after the calving. These cows produced 5,681 kg ECM per lactation and 434,9 kg milk fat and protein per standard lactation having been fed 285 kg of air-dried concentrate. The calving interval and the empty time of the PK cows (BK: 121,3 v. PK: 85,0 days, P<0,01) were shorter. The BK herd yielded 12,717 kg ECM/ha AA/year and the PK herd 10,307 kg ECM/AA/year. In conclusion, the productivity and the efficiency of the BK herd were higher compared to the PK herd due to the higher energy intake per kg feed and the higher nutrient intake postpartum.
Comparison of dairy farming systems: barn-keeping v pasture-based keeping – Feed, performance and efficiency