An economic comparison of pasture-based production systems differing in sward type and cow genotype

B McClearn, L Shalloo, T J Gilliland, F Coughlan, B McCarthy

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to compare the economic performance of 2 sward types [perennial ryegrass (PRG; Lolium perenne L.) sown with or without white clover (Trifolium repens L.)] grazed by 3 cow genotypes. Physical performance data were collected from a 4-yr systems experiment based at Clonakilty Agricultural College, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland. The experiment compared 2 sward types (PRG-only swards and PRG-white clover swards), with each sward type being grazed by cows from 3 genotypes [Holstein-Friesian (HF), Jersey × HF (JEX), and Norwegian Red × JEX (3-way)]. All systems were stocked at 2.75 cows/ha with fixed fertilizer applications and concentrate supplementation. The data supplied 6 production systems (2 sward types × 3 cow genotypes). The production systems were modeled using the Moorepark Dairy Systems Model (stochastic budgetary simulation model) under 2 scenarios, one in which land area was fixed and one in which cow numbers were fixed. The analysis was completed across a range of milk prices, calf prices, and reseeding programs. The analysis showed that in the fixed-land scenario with a milk price of €0.29/L, adding white clover to PRG swards increased profitability by €305/ha. In the same fixed-land scenario, JEX cows were most profitable (€2,606/ha), followed by 3-way (€2,492/ha) and HF (€2,468/ha) cows. In the fixed-cow scenario, net profit per cow was €128 greater for PRG-white clover swards compared with PRG-only swards. In this scenario, JEX was the most profitable per cow (€877), followed by HF (€855) and 3-way (€831). The system that produced the highest net profit was JEX cows grazing PRG-white clover swards (€2,751/ha). Regardless of reseeding frequency or variations in calf value, JEX cows grazing PRG-white clover swards consistently produced the highest net profit per hectare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4455-4465
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 05 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Cattle/genetics
  • Dairying/economics
  • Genotype
  • Ireland
  • Lolium
  • Trifolium


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