A computer model was developed to simulate forage systems on dairy farms. The model simulated alfalfa growth, corn silage and corn grain yields, harvest, storage, feeding and ration formulation for a dairy herd. A 26-year series of historical weather data from East Lansing, Michigan, was used to compare management and technological alternatives on the basis of average net return and year-to-year variations. For example, a four-cut alfalfa system was found to be more profitable than a three-cut system 90% of the time. The comparison of a hay system with a silage system was very sensitive to forage intake assumptions; the break-even point shifted from 120 ha to 40 ha when silage intake was increased by 5%. The model can be used to assess the impact of new forage conservation methods under a wide range of climatic and management conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Agronomy and Crop Science