Type of Grass Improves Business for Dairy Farmers
Published December 25th, 2013
Other than mowing the lawn, grass may not affect your everyday life very much.
But for some dairy farmers in North Central Florida, it's revolutionizing their industry.
A certain species of grass gives dairies more milk for their dollar.
"You could say agriculture is the ultimate recycler. We waste nothing," said Grassy Bell Dairy Manager Guy Wayne Parrish.
And a special kind of grass helps them recycle more.
Guy Wayne Parrish uses Tifton 85 grass to feed and keep his cattle on, instead of keeping them in the milking parlors 24/7.
"It's very beneficial to us from a cow comfort stand point. It's very beneficial from the standpoint, it helps us produce quality milk because we have a nice clean environment for the cattle to stay on at all times," said Parrish.
The long stem grass offers a higher yield of product, giving Parrish's cows the energy and the digestive functions they need to produce up to 70 pounds of milk per day.
Tifton 85 is also a perennial grass, giving him the consistency his cows require.
"In a milk cow's life, she does not like change. The more constant we can keep her life, the better she likes it," said Parrish.
Farmers like Parrish used to use finer grasses like bahia and coastal, until the University of Florida showed them what Tifton 85 could do for their operations, while being eco-friendly at the same time.
"You have a grass that produces more and is able to uptake more nutrients, so it's a more efficient mopper, if you wish," said UF IFAS Forage expert Yoana Newman.
This grass is also more resistant to diseases, too.
"The plant has a mechanism to cope with this and manages not to lose production," said Newman.
Tifton 85 doesn't like the cold so Parrish has planted oats in it's place for now.
But in the spring, the Tifton 85 will come back to life.
It's a system that keeps his cows moving along.
"Everything we do goes back to taking care of her and making sure she is well fed, has a good clean environment to live in, and is taken care of the same way, every day, 365 days a year.
And if you get that right, the rest of it's pretty simple," said Parrish.
Because, as the saying goes, happy cows make more milk.
Newman says Tifton 85 isn't the grass for everyone.
She says it's a better fit for those who have animals with higher nutritional requirements, like the dairy cows.
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