Dairy farming is the single biggest land use in the Great Lakes Basin. The sector is rapidly consolidating toward large confinement-feeding operations which use intensive cropping. Feeding dairy cows with well-managed pasture can reduce costs, protect water quality, and fight climate change. To maximize the probability of long-term financial viability of grazing dairies, improving efficiency is crucial.
Low-overhead regenerative dairy grazing cuts both variable and fixed costs of production which can allow farms to be profitable even at very low milk prices. Through a new project, the Wallace Center team and agricultural economist Dr. Jon Winsten will work with farmers, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, Food System 6, and other partners to support low-overhead dairy grazing.
This project will help a group of dairy farmers in the Great Lakes Basin to create the necessary technical and business plans to create larger-herd, low-overhead dairy grazing operations. We will provide a range of free services customized to each farm, which may include:
Photos of Low Overhead Dairy Grazing
Grazing: Economies of scale to lower overhead costs >>
This article, published in 2023 in Progressive Forage, describes Dr. Jon Winsten’s work on dairy grazing systems and the efficiencies of the large herd, low overhead model.
Project Handout >>
Low-overhead dairy grazing can give farmers greater flexibility and profitability, as well as contribute to quantifiable environmental and social benefits. This document provides an overview of the context of dairy in the Upper Midwest and a brief description of the benefits of low-overhead dairy grazing.