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Organic Dairies Offer Several Key Advantages Over Conventional Dairies - Report

November 22, 2010: 04:49 AM EST

A report from the Organic Center (Boulder, Colo.) comparing meat production, earned revenue, waste generation and other factors at conventional and organic dairy farms has found that grass-based organic dairy farming promotes cow health, enhances milk quality, and lightens the environmental footprint. At high production grain-based dairies, however, reproductive health problems lead to fewer and longer lactations, increased costs and lower lifelong production and revenue. The report says organic systems promote cow health and longevity by placing less stress on cows and feeding them healthier forage-based diets, while also improving the nutritional quality of milk. Other findings: manure management systems on organic farms reduce manure methane emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent; cows live and produce milk longer on organic farms; milking cow replacement rates are 30 percent to 46 percent lower.

Charles Benbrook, et al., "A Dairy Farm’s Footprint: Evaluating the Impacts of Conventional and Organic Farming Systems", Critical Issue Report, November 22, 2010, © The Organic Center
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