1Institut agricole de l’Etat de Fribourg, Grangeneuve, IAG, 1725 Posieux

Efficiency of forage surface area in dairy systems in the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland

Milk output per hectare of forage surface area is a means of measuring the efficiency of dairy production. The aim of this study is to identify which factors are decisive in the variation of surface-area productivity practised in the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland. The analysis is based on a survey of 266 dairy farms which was conducted during the period 2002–2009. Altitude is, as expected, a significant structural factor, constraining milk output per hectare because of lower grassland yield and quality. Lowland farms which use maize silage and moderate amounts of concentrate are, on average, more efficient. Some of the grass-based farms achieve similar levels of efficiency, but many still have room for improvement. Although high efficiency is attainable with individually-medium-yielding cows, a positive correlation was observed between milk output per hectare and cows’ forage-based milk yield. In conclusion, it appears that irrespective of local pedoclimatic factors and type of system, surface-area productivity is highly dependent on farmers’ ability to optimise their own production system.

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