Fancy some organic hay milk?
Increasing number of German dairy farmers are switching from conventional to organic milk production.
For many it’s not a case of securing a better farm gate price: the real driver is a desire to produce milk in what they regard is a more natural and sustainable manner.
However, some farmers have taken this principle to a higher level again by feeding their cows high-quality, barn-dried hay as the sole source of winter forage.
One such farmer is Rüdiger Pöhl, who milks 70 Fleckvieh cows close to the village Gottberg in eastern Germany.
The farm extends to 270ha. In addition to the grass and hay produced for the cows and young stock, Pöhl produces 30t of organic hemp seed and 40t of sunflower seed on an annual basis. Organic barley is also grown on the farm.
The cows are milked by a single robot: they are currently producing 6,500L per lactation. Approximately 4kg of organic concentrates are fed to the cows in the milking group per day.
The herd is zero-grazed throughout the spring and summer period. The forage is changed to hay for the rest of the year.
Pöhl made the switch to organic in 2009. Prior to this he had been milking 116 cows.