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From the News Archives...

Animal scientist contemplates "far-out" idea—pasturing dairy heifers!

Feeding a dairy heifer a standard dairy diet increases the amount of fat deposited in its mammary glands, which can interfere with milk production later on. Allowing the animal to graze fresh pasture without grain supplements prevents this abnormal accumulation of fat. Animal Scientist Larry D. Satter, at the Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin, told a reporter for Science News: "We're now wondering if pasturing a heifer in the month or so preceding puberty might reduce this fat deposition in the mammary gland. It's a far-out idea," he concludes, "but one for which there is some rationale."

The fact that putting a cow on pasture for a mere month would be considered a "far-out" idea is an indication of how entrenched confinement feeding has become in the dairy industry. At the present time, only about 15-20% of our dairy cows have access to fresh pasture. As you will see by browsing this site, there are dozens of reasons for keeping dairy cows on pasture in addition to reducing the amount of fat in their mammary glands, including 1) reducing greenhouse gasses, 2) increasing the vitamin and "good fat" content of the milk, 3) reducing the need for medications, 4) enhancing the overall health of the animals, and 5) extending their productive life span.

 

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