Effect of climate variability on pasture-based dairy feeding systems in south-east Australia

Ozkan S., Hill J., Cullen B.

ANIMAL PRODUCTION SCIENCE, vol.55, no.9, pp.1106-1116, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 55 Issue: 9
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1071/an14493
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1106-1116
  • Erciyes University Affiliated: No


The Australian dairy industry relies primarily on pasture for its feed supply. However, the variability in climate affects plant growth, leading to uncertainty in dryland pasture supply. This paper models the impact of climate variability on pasture production and examines the potential of two pasture-based dairy feeding systems: (1) to experience winter deficits; (2) to carry forward the conserved pasture surpluses as silage for future use; and (3) to conserve pasture surpluses as hay. The two dairy feeding systems examined were a traditional perennial ryegrass-based feeding system (ryegrass max. - RM) and a system that incorporated double cropping into the perennial ryegrass pasture base (complementary forage - CF). The conditional probability of the RM and CF systems to generate pasture deficits in winter were 94% and 96%, respectively. Both systems could carry forward the surplus silage into the following lactation almost once in every 4-5 years with the RM system performing slightly better than the CF system. The proportions of the grain-based concentrates fed in the two systems were 25% and 27% for the RM and CF systems, respectively. This study suggests that double-cropping systems have the potential to provide high-quality feed to support the feed gaps when pasture is not available due to increased variability in climatic conditions.